Boston, MA– Since the beginning of the season, I have been holding true to one prediction about the Boston Celtics and the chances they have to make a serious run at winning the 2019 NBA Finals. That is: in order to beat the Golden State Warriors, a team needs a true NBA megastar, as in one of the ten or twelve players in the league who truly rise above the game of basketball and can swing an entire game based on their own talent. Many teams in the post-season have stellar players like Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Denver's Nikola Jokic. But I wouldn't put them in this class of game-changing players.
Golden State has two of them in Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Milwaukee obviously has Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Toronto Raptors boast Kawhi Leonard. Portland has come alive on the back of Damian Lillard. And Houston boasts James Harden. But aside from them, there's only one player left standing in the playoffs who I believe is at that level. And his name is Kyrie Irving. If the Celtics make it to the Finals, their best shot at downing the competition will be to give Kyrie the ball and watch him go to work. Because he can single-handedly change the game.
The Celtics were unfortunate in that they did not get to witness Kyrie's playoff prowess last season after he finished the season injured, but they have been able to bask in his glory so far in 2019. The four game sweep against the Indiana Pacers bolstered Irving's first round playoff record to 16-0, having never lost a first round matchup. And with a minimum of 50 post-season games played, Irving has the highest winning percentage in the playoffs of any player in NBA history. Even NBA legends like Kobe Bryant have taken to breaking down Kyrie's impossibly good post-season statistics, which are among those that the Celtics would like to keep afloat.
So far, Irving is averaging 22.5 points per game in the 2018-19 playoffs along with .423 three point completion percentage. I can't wait to see what Irving is capable of in Boston's second round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, which begins this Sunday at one o'clock in the afternoon!
Image via Wikimedia Commons / Erik Drost