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May 23, 2017

Kyrie Irving

Boston, Massachusetts: Postgame

Cavaliers 112, Celtics 99

Q. Kyrie, 42 points tonight, career playoff best for you; what was the difference, and when did you kind of flip that switch in the second half?
KYRIE IRVING: We knew going into halftime that we hadn't played our best basketball, so it was a conscious choice that we had to make on our end, how bad did we want it, and we just had to keep it within striking distance, and we knew that our pressure, if we picked it up, we're going to have them commit turnovers and make them feel uncomfortable, and that's when we're at our best, when our defensive intensity is at an all-time high. We're playing with unbelievable pace. It was one of those games that we had to fight through, and we had to earn it, and you know, that Boston Celtics team is coached well, very well-coached, and they gave us everything [they] had, and we had to withstand some runs, and in the third and fourth quarter we were able to withstand them and create a separation for ourselves.

Q. Did LeBron's foul trouble force you to be a little bit more assertive there, and how much did that play a role in what you did there in the second half?
KYRIE IRVING: The importance of a Game 4, especially the way we came out in Game 3, you know, in the back of my mind, I was like, I'm saying to myself, we cannot -- they cannot tie up this series. They cannot. We cannot go to Boston 2-2 and then it becomes almost an even series. And for us, our focus level has to be at an all-time high, and the little things that matter that's going to make the difference within the game, you saw Kevin doing it, being a man down low. Tristan, J.R. giving us some great minutes, Richard Jefferson, Deron, Kyle, everybody's effort, we needed everything tonight, and we all need that from one another in order to be a great team, especially for what we're trying to accomplish. You know, that Celtics team is not going to give up, and they're going to continue to attack us, and we have to be able to face adversity, look it in the face and say you're not going to win today. I'm telling my guys on the court the whole entire game, we've seen this before, we've been through this, we've experienced this, and we're going to get through this, and from that point on, it clicked.

Q. In that scary third quarter moment did you feel like you needed to get back up and keep setting the tone, and what's your condition right now?
KYRIE IRVING: I'm just thankful that -- I've twisted my ankle so many times that plays like that, you have two choices, either you can sit there and kind of wallow in the sorrow of you twisting your ankle or capture the moment, and my adrenaline is still going at this point, so I'm pretty sure when I get home my body will probably hate me, but it's the magnitude of the moment and what's at stake, and I wasn't coming out for any margin. I wasn't coming out. I knew how much we needed this game and how much my teammates needed me and the importance of me leading these guys as well as Bron.

Q. What is it with you and big moments? Why do you seem to flourish in those moments and rise to the occasion?
KYRIE IRVING: Just being prepared mentally first and then letting the physical tools that God has blessed me with take over and really being just fearless in terms of my approach. When you have a special player like Bron on your team, sometimes you can get caught watching and you allow him to be great, and in the case of occasional games where it's my job to be aggressive in all facets and keep us within the game and constantly staying in attack mode, you know, we're quite a different team, and when we're doing our defensive end and my teammates are able to get stops and we get out in transition, then we get some easy lay-ups and get some easy shots then I'm able to iso at the elbow, get some quality looks, we're a great team.

I don't take it for granted to have great teammates because without those guys, I'm not able to attack the rim and be able to create -- and be able to have the space that I have out there, so Boston did a great job loading up on our isos, but we sort of took advantage of it in the second half.

Q. Why does this team love adversity?
KYRIE IRVING: I mean, that's sort of a complex question, but adversity has a way of really bringing out the best in people, or it can bring out the worst. You know, I've been on both sides. I know a couple of my teammates have, and us as a team, we've been on both sides, as well. You know, you just have a choice to make, and it has to be a fearless approach, and it comes from up top and our leadership. I'm not going to waver. I'm not going to show any signs of giving up or anything of that matter. My job is to continue to play and continue to lead these guys as best I know how, and it's a difficult task, but adversity is part of life, and it's a part of the game, and it's just basketball, and if you leave it all out there and you can look yourself in the mirror after the games and you gave it 150 percent, that's all you can ask for from yourself.

Q. I'm not trying to put LeBron out to pasture by any means, but at some point he's spoken openly about this, he mentioned it to me in the second round, he said, you're going to be in a position to lead this franchise in your prime. Do moments like this matter in that development, in that passing of the torch, and do you think about that process occurring at some point over the next several years?
KYRIE IRVING: It's hard not to think about because as I continue to get older and I'm playing with an unbelievable player like Bron, you know, from the outsider's perspective, it could be seen a few ways, and for me, it's -- it hasn't been anything short of difficult, trying to figure out when will it be my time, when will it -- and the honest answer from me is that I cannot give any energy to anything that people say would be best for the team or even sometimes what I think would be best. My job is to be in the moment, especially with an unbelievable player like him. You have to just enjoy the ride just as much. You know, individual goals that you have to just push to the side because this team, nothing is promised, and who knows what would happen down the line, and this is probably hands down the best team that I've ever played with and probably will play with if we all stay together.

But you know, you just have to be really confident in who you are as a person and stay true, and then make decisions from there and be able to apply basketball at a very high level, and you can't cheat the game, and I don't -- I've learned from some of the best that have played this game, and you can't cheat it. I've become more of an observer as well as a leader at the same time, which I'm super proud of. So it all comes with the great veteran leadership we have on this team that allows me to do that.

Q. You've mentioned now twice in the last couple of weeks just about how great this team is, beyond the talent, which is obvious, everybody sees it, what is it that makes this group so unique, so special?
KYRIE IRVING: I said it last year when we had a very special team, as well, but you just look at the individual journeys that we've all endured and how Griff [GM David Griffin] has put this team together and how it's gelling very well and how we've all seen a lot. Even myself, I'm 25, going on -- I'm in year 6, going into year 7 next year, but I've seen a lot in this league and I've had the luxury of being a part of a very special team for the last three years. When we come into practice and everyone is locked in, true professionals, it makes the game a lot more fun and the sacrifice is well worth it.

Q. I think from the time of LeBron's fourth foul until the end of the third period, a little less than 19 minutes, you had 33 points. What's it like when you get on one of those personal rolls offensively?
KYRIE IRVING: You almost hit the -- I think you guys have heard it, almost like a runner's high, where you get so juiced up when you see a few shots going in, and then you feel the emotion kind of take over, and then shots just start to fall in, and then moves that you've practiced just become second nature, and that's the incredible zone to be in, which I was tonight. Like I said, it just all happened with the flow of the game and all of our guys doing the little things in order to allow me to do that.

Q. A lot was made earlier in the Playoffs about inefficiency and just shots not falling that otherwise would have. What have you seen these last two plus games that has allowed your efficiency to ramp up? Is it scheme or is it things just actually going your way?
KYRIE IRVING: By not thinking so much. As you guys know, as you guys have seen, Bron has been unbelievable, so it was -- throughout the regular season going into the Playoffs, it was myself and Bron, and then we had Kev getting back into the lineup as well as J.R. and we were still figuring out our offensive tendencies, and in doing that, in between games, I just wasn't shooting as much, and then going into games, just overthinking, and Bron was just being so special, I'm trying to give him a rest here and there and figure out where my spots are, and that was a difficult test. But once I started just really dialing back in and understanding what teams were trying to do, they were trying to get the ball out of my hands, trying to double me, trying to make me a playmaker, and I can score and play make. It was a difficult balance, but I mean, the only thing that matters in the Playoffs is winning, and that's all I care about. I'm going to go out shooting all my bullets and making sure that my teammates do the same and leave it all out there, so the efficiency and everything else will come, and I'm confident in that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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