How Kyrie Irving Prepared For Celtics Entering NBA Finals Game 4

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Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving admitted figuring out the Celtics hasn’t been easy, especially since undergoing an 0-13 stretch in head-to-head matchups with Boston which began two years ago.

That dark cloud became more daunting once the Celtics took a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals, leaving it up to Irving, the veteran Dallas leader, to avoid going down without a fight. To do so, Irving spent some time catching up on some Celtics game film — specifically film the organization would like to keep in the team’s rearview mirror.

“For the last 48 hours, I’ve just been watching a lot of film on the Celtics this past year,” Irving told NBA TV after Game 4 on Friday. “And also in the Finals when they played against the (Golden State) Warriors, and also the previous (Eastern Conference) finals against the Miami Heat; just watching some of their trends. Even though they have different players, some of their players are still on the team that have built that consistency, built that reserve.”

Irving’s struggles to begin the series with an unwelcoming return to TD Garden hampered the Mavericks. The 32-year-old scored a combined 28 points in Games 1 and 2, giving Boston a favorable jump start.

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As the odds stacked against Dallas in Game 4, and the Celtics sat four quarters away from flying back to Boston with a Larry O’Brien Trophy instead of a Game 5, Irving put all the off-time preparation into action. He scored 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting from the field with four rebounds and six assists, leading a red-hot Dallas offense to a lead as large as 48 points.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were run off the floor toward the end of the third quarter. Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla yanked all the starters, the embarrassment continued, and when the dust settled, the Celtics had endured a franchise-worst 38-point (122-84) Finals loss to Dallas at American Airlines Center.

Still… the pressure isn’t falling off Irving’s shoulders anytime soon.

“We have to play with a sense of desperation, a very smart sense of desperation,” Irving explained, per NBA TV. “We don’t wanna go out there and just throw the ball around the place but we wanna attack their weak points and continue to be efficient in the paint area. … They have some shot blockers in there but their main shot blockers not in there with (Kristaps Porzingis) not in there so we gotta take advantage of that.”

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