Kyrie Irving is capable of bodily contortions with a degree of difficulty equal to anything that can be achieved by the master yogis of Southern Asia, by a pack of spider monkeys or by a bag of salted pretzels. He needed every available angle and twist on Tuesday at TD Garden to swirl his Celtics past the Sixers, 121-114, in overtime.
The game reached the extra period only through Irving’s individual brilliance. Matched up against ace Sixers defender Jimmy Butler, Irving took the ball on the high left wing, gave Butler two quick between-the-legs dribbles, zipped to the paint, failed to shake Butler with a full-body jab step, went into a fake post-up, picked his spot near the right elbow and floated a jumper that hung on the rim before slipping in for a 108-108 tie.
"I just couldn’t get my hand underneath the basketball," Irving said. "Jimmy (Butler) was pressuring me so well, and just trying to get to a spot and raise up over him. You know, I just couldn’t get the ball in.
"When I finally did, I got squared and I faded and just put a little bit more air on it, and just hit the front of the rim and went in."
Irving had 40 points on the game, 14 in the fourth quarter and overtime — including back-to-back 3s in the final two minutes that gave Boston control of the game. He shot 17-for-33 from the field, 5-for-10 from the 3-point line and added 10 rebounds. It was the kind of performance a team needs from its star player in an important December game on the national stage.