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May 25, 2017

Kyrie Irving

Boston, Massachusetts: Postgame

Cavaliers - 135, Celtics - 102.

Q. Kyrie, you've been one of the most efficient iso scorers in the NBA since you were drafted. Do you feel like you're playing your best one-on-one right now as you have at any point in your career?
KYRIE IRVING: I just think I'm seeing the floor a lot better than I was in my younger years. There is a lot more spacing [with this team]. I'm understanding where teams are coming from to double-team or come over and help. Just watching a lot of film and dedicating myself to the game. Not cheating it, not trying to skip any steps. Understanding that every game that I get a chance to go out there and play is a chance for me to continually get better, dominate in any facet of the game as well as lead my team and do whatever it takes.

I feel this attitude that I have is now definitely putting me in a position to be successful out there on the floor. But none of that happens without the teammates that I have and the unbelievable selflessness that they have. That selfless nature allows me to be who I am truly, so I'm just grateful for that.

Q. Can you describe the spin and step-back against Crowder? How do you put that sequence together?
KYRIE IRVING: Man, just constantly watching a lot of guys that have come before me. Being able to create just enough separation to get my shot off. Seeing the way the defense is playing me. But more or less just allowing my footwork to be able to make up for my lack of athleticism that I have at the rim or some of the speed that guys may have on me or some of the aggressiveness that guys try. It's just a lot of dedication, a lot of hard work.

But that sequence is something that I've worked on plenty of times. I'm glad that the shot went in. The move doesn't mean anything unless the shot goes in. That's one of the things that my dad always told me. You can have a $5 million move, but if you have a one-cent finish, then who cares. The importance is utilizing the moves at the right time and just seeing the weak-side action and just having your head on a swivel and just being complete, especially in those situations.

Q. Kyrie, you talked a lot about after Game 4 about the "why" that this team has, the purpose that you guys have. I'm wondering from the point where you were down 10 points at halftime of Game [4], to any point tonight in the game where you were running away, I was wondering in your mind how all of that changed so quickly.
KYRIE IRVING: Well, in Game [4], I knew that if we kept it within 10, a surge was going to happen. I wasn't sure when. But I knew that I had to make the conscious choice to really lead our guys, understanding the situation that we were in, and just telling myself before I told the guys about our why, which is trying to make it back to The Finals, we cannot go back to Boston 2-2. That's one thing that can't happen for us; we cannot come back here 2-2, and then we're back on an even playing field. So the importance and the magnitude of that moment was definitely captured by my teammates and myself.

You look back on it and it definitely helped us grow as a team and mature. So it's something that we needed ultimately, to lose Game 3 in the fashion that we did and the way that Boston challenged us continuously, we needed all that to propel us to this moment.

There are more moments to come where we'll be tested, especially on the West Coast playing against a great team like the Warriors. It was great for us, and we're happy with getting back to The Finals, but we're definitely not satisfied where we are.

Q. Kyrie, you just touched on the challenge that the Celtics did present to you guys. Can you just speak now that the series is over on what takeaways you have from your opponent?
KYRIE IRVING: You have to commend them for accomplishing what they did, especially in the regular season. I mean, the goals that they set, they were definitely challenging us, and it made the league turn for a little bit, just 1 versus 2, 2, 1, who was going to get first place and who was actually ready for the playoffs. That makes basketball exciting. That makes the league exciting.

In the fashion that they were playing basketball was at such a high level. And honestly, we didn't want IT to go down. But the way that guy has played, I mean, the way he was playing, he's deserving of all the credit that he's gotten. As well as guys like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk and just all their guys, they're just dedicated to basketball. They're coming out and they're hitting us, and they don't care who you are. I was watching before tonight's game the game that they played in Golden State and the way -- in the fashion that they did that. That was the testament; that was the turn of how special they could be. And they made it this far. It was 1 versus 2. It was a matchup that we were all looking forward to, and I'm glad that we prevailed. But they tested us every single minute, and we needed that.

Q. I'm wondering if this conference final title feels any different given that you played the entire season as the hunted, given that you won the championship last year and people are gunning for you this year?
KYRIE IRVING: Definitely feels different. This is one that I can really put in the memory bank and be proud of up until this point because I finally got to play the majority of the games in the regular season and be challenged every single night. And then the final three weeks of the season as well as Round 1 was some of the toughest basketball that I had to play. It's definitely one for the books for me up to this point.

Q. Do you feel that you and LeBron have kind of reached a level of synergy now, that you can't really be stopped anymore?
KYRIE IRVING: Are you asking about our relationship?

Q. On the court.
KYRIE IRVING: Okay, it felt like -- okay. (Smiling.)

As you can see in our play, especially in his play, he's been the driving force this whole entire playoff run. And all of us have just really helped him along the way with being just the teammates that we're supposed to be, especially when a guy is playing unbelievable like that. He shot 13 for 18, had 35 points, and as much criticism as the guy takes, he just continues to perform and continues to come back and come back again and again and again. That's the echo of greatness. And when you're around that, you have a choice: either you can kind of sit back and just watch and observe, or you can pick your game up as well.

I think that that synergy is coming along the way. In our beginning stages, I think that we didn't want to step on each other's toes because of how special we both are and the other pieces that we have on our team.

That's a hard balance to figure out.

But the special ones figure it out, and I'm just eternally grateful to have a guy like that as well as K-Love, Tristan, J.R., all my teammates. But when you look at how this team is run and who are the driving forces behind it, it has to be myself and Bron. We understand that. It falls on our shoulders as well as everyone else, but we have to carry it. I accepted that. He knows I'm preparing every single day and I'm dedicating myself every single day to this game and I'm leaving it out there, and I expect the same from him.

When you get to that level of trust and you allow someone to come into a friendship that extends well off the court and you understand how great this era can be if we are selfless to the point where we don't think about anything else except for the greatness of our team and what we can accomplish -- we stay in that moment, we're very special.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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