After watching Kyrie Irving’s 57 point performance against the San Antonio Spurs in Cleveland’s improbable 128-125 victory I am struggling to find the words to describe what I just witnessed. Only a few come to mind.
I have not been this speechless in a long time over a basketball game, and as a writer, I’m not sure if that is a good thing or scary. Either way, WOW is all I can come up with.
In all of my years of watching basketball, I am not sure I have EVER seen a regular season game like this.
In fact, Kyrie Irving’s 57 point outburst and complete domination reminded me of only one other game I have watched as a Cleveland fan.
I realize comparing playoff basketball to a Thursday night game in March is apples to oranges, but this was as close to a playoff game as a regular season game can get.
Kyrie’s performance was one for the ages, and one I had not seen since this incredible night in Detroit.
Now, we all remember LeBron dropping 48 points, including 29 of the final 30 for Cleveland to beat the Pistons in 109-107 in 2OT.
But what was better?
LeBron got to the rack at will on that magical night in late May, but Kyrie got into the lane whenever he wanted as well. Neither of these guys could miss from the outside. LeBron hit magical step-back 3s, and one of my favorite shots of all-time when he went behind the back at the top of the circle and then buried a jumper in Chauncey Billups’ eye. Kyrie, on the other hand, was on fire all night. Irving went 7 of 7 from behind the arc, and was a perfect 10 of 10 from the charity stripe.
To put Kyrie’s outstanding night in perspective with other 57-point performances, there were a few things that really stood out.
- Kyrie scored 57 points on 32 shots. This has only been done 11 times in the 3-point era
- No one has accomplished the above feat with less than 17FT attempts, Kyrie toed the stripe 10 times.
- In NBA history Kyrie became only the 4th player ever to have multiple games with 55 or more in one season.
LeBron’s game 5 performance did not top the 50 point plateau, but it showed us exactly what LeBron was capable with the team on his back. Possession after possession LeBron came through for the Cavs. When they needed two points to tie it, LeBron found his way to the rim and threw the hammer down. When the Cavs fell behind three, LeBron took a step back on the right wing, and as soon as the ball left his hand, the world knew it was a tie game. On that night, LeBron made the near impossible look easy.
The same can be said for Kyrie against the Spurs.
The buzzer-beating 3-point shot was one for the ages, his corner 3 late in the fourth was a near impossible shot, and his killer instinct in overtime was incredible as well. When the Cavs were down by six with less than a minute to go Kyrie single handedly kept the game alive for Cleveland. Finishing an and-one in the paint, burying 3s, and making countless defenders look silly in the game’s crucial moments makes for the greatest regular season game I have ever seen.
I have a tough time ranking this above LeBron’s magical night. Playoffs triumph over regular season games, and that is the ONLY thing that keeps May 31, 2007, ahead of March 12, 2015. Had this happened in The Finals I would be calling this the greatest game I had ever seen, and possibly the greatest performance the NBA had ever seen.
– Danny Cunningham
featured image via nba.com