The Brooklyn Nets were not only taking on the rival New York Knicks without the services of Kevin Durant, but star guard James Harden managed just four minutes on the floor due to his own hamstring injury. Kyrie Irving needed to carry the weight once again, and the mesmerizing ball-handler did just that.
Irving, who is averaging 28 points per game on the best shooting percentages of his career, put up 40 points to help the Nets mount a furious comeback and take down their crosstown rivals in Brooklyn. He did so with a few jaw-dropping plays that proved he’s arguably the best pure ball-handler we’ve seen in the last 15 years.
And if you remember correctly, Irving was rumored to have been interested in signing with the Knicks alongside Durant before joining his childhood team in the Nets. On top of that being demoralizing for the Knicks, it also doesn’t help that Irving has historically destroyed them when they go toe-to-toe.
After his masterpiece, Irving reminded fans that he’s looking to improve, as he turned the ball over late in the game despite being the catalyst for essentially everything on the offensive end. Considering how he has annihilated the Knicks lately, Nets fans will overlook that.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving completely owns the Knicks.
Since coming to the Nets, Irving has averaged an insane 33.3 points per game with 55/42/90 shooting splits against the Knicks. Even against one of the unquestioned best defensive teams in the league, Irving can make something special happen.
Irving might not have the mercurial scoring skill of Durant, nor the ability to record a triple-double every single night like Harden, but he does have one of the best 3-point shots among primary ball-handlers in the game today as well as an ability to do things with a basketball on offense that few, if any, in this league can replicate.
Kyrie might be, nominally, the third option on this team now that a pair of former MVPs in Durant and Harden are together in Brooklyn, but Monday night proved that even when those two are on the floor, and role players like LaMarcus Aldridge and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are having off nights, Irving can will Brooklyn to a victory.
The Knicks are a quality team that could give the Nets fits in the postseason thanks to how good Julius Randle has become, but Irving taking over as he has done for the past few years proved that the Nets are a tier well above their Manhattan-based foes.