CLEVELAND — Kyrie Irving gritted his teeth, tightened up his left sneaker and hopped to his feet. [restrict]
The pain couldn’t stop him. The Celtics couldn’t either.
Irving took over in the second half and finished with 42 points despite playing on a tender ankle, LeBron James added 34 and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of an almost inevitable third date in the NBA Finals with Golden State by rallying to beat Boston 112-99 on Tuesday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
With James in foul trouble, Irving was forced to do more than ever and he delivered, scoring 19 in less than five minutes and 33 in a 19-minute stretch.
“The kid is special,” James said. “I was happy to sit back and watch him. He was born for these moments.”
The defending NBA champions, who shot 71 percent in the second half, opened a 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap up their third straight conference title — and a “three-match” against the Warriors — with a win in Game 5 on Thursday night in Boston.
But if Games 3 and 4 are any indication, it won’t be easy.
Fighting to keep their season alive, the Celtics aren’t giving an inch despite playing without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who may need surgery on a hip injury. [/restrict]