Move over King. Kyrie’s got this. Just when you think, maybe, maybe, as absurd as it sounds, maybe the Celtics really are better without Isaiah Thomas.
Sure, it sounds like the most lava take ever. Until you remember they did come from 21 down to win Game 3 just a couple of nights earlier. And then chased that by jumping on the Cavs last night and building a 16 point lead. Maybe it’s true. Maybe they are better without their 5-9 point guard. Maybe the ball moves better when Thomas isn’t on the floor. Maybe they’re a tougher matchup and tougher to defend with him on the bench. Maybe the Celtics were actually going tie the series without Thomas, send it back to Boston after re-ripping the home court. And they were going to shock the world with their heart and soul in streets. Right! And maybe I’m bill Russell. Ehhhhhhh!! Fools gold.
They got that temporary adrenaline surge teams sometimes teams get when their star player leaves the game and everyone else knows they have to step their game up. Couple that with the Cavs losing interest momentarily and taking their foot off the gas, and Boston playing with a sense of desperation, and the Celtics steal Game 3.
As far last night, sure they got off to a great start. And they had an unbelievable opportunity when LeBron went to the bench in the first half with his fourth foul. A golden opportunity they couldn’t take advantage of because Kyrie Irving stepped up and ended them, singlehandedly. The Celtics don’t have a single guy that can stay in front of Kyrie.
Truth is, when Uncle Drew gets it going and is feeling it, there isn’t a guy in the NBA who can check him. He’s unguardable. You can count on one hand the number of guys in the league who can take over a game like that. And even fewer who can do it on that big of a stage. My man went to work, and didn’t put down his blow torch until he ran and shot the Celtics right out of that gym. He went into full scale hero mode, scoring 36 of his 42 points after LeBron went to the bench. Dude was snapping ankles and snatching souls and making it look easy.
LeBron might still be the best player in the world, but on a night like that, Kyrie is there to remind you he’s not far behind. And if LeBron is going to no show like he did in Game 3, or go to the bench with foul trouble, Kyrie’s there to remind you, that’s not problem at all. There to tell him, we got you, King. Take Game 5 off if you want to, because we’ve got that too. Because even without the King, there isn’t a team in the league other than Golden State that can stay with the Cavs.
And without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics have absolutely no chance in this series. And Kyrie, more than anyone else knows, wasting time on a totally outclassed Celtics squad, with Golden State at home, getting their rest, is the worst idea ever.
LeBron should have never even been in a position to pick up that fourth foul in the first half. Nor should Boston have had any looking and ripping another one and sending it back home 2-2. But in the end, they didn’t. Not on Kyrie’s watch. Even on a bum wheel, he knew better than to let Boston up and give them any reason to believe. Dude’s a killer. And a closer. And a finisher. And now he and they have to go back to Boston, drive a stake through their heart, put them out of their misery, put the rest of us out of our playoff misery and give us what we want the trilogy.