Curry and Irving put on a dazzling duel, combining for 86 points on a mere 42 shots during the Warriors’ 109-105 triumph over the Celtics in a clash of conference leaders at Oracle Arena.
Curry posted a season-high 49 points on 16-of-24 shooting, including 8-of-13 shooting beyond the 3-point arc, in 37 minutes. He scored 13 points over the final 105 seconds of play while the Warriors fended off Boston’s charges. Irving countered with 37 points on 13-of-18 shooting over 36 minutes.
“You just got to sit back and enjoy the show,” Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant said. “You know what I’m saying? Once they got it going, you got to get out of the way. You can tell both teams kind of felt that midway through the first. Kyrie got it going, got it cooking early, and then Steph, you could just tell was kind of back and forth.
“We were trying to look for Steph, they were looking for Kyrie, and they came to play. That’s what high-level basketball players do. You see a matchup that will bring the best out of you. You come out here with your best and those two guys showed a lot tonight.”
Both Curry and Irving showered each other with praise after the game.
“[Irving is] an amazing player. The way he saw the game tonight was pretty crazy,” Curry said. “I feel like we were defending pretty well, he just made some tough shots, a lot of tough shots and gave his team a lot of momentum. But we try to bring the best out of each other and tonight, was kind of one of those nights. Just a fun way to play. Obviously, we want to try to slow him down a little bit next time, but it was fun.”
Irving said it’s hard to stop Curry when he’s got it going like he did on this night.
“I felt like we did a great job sticking to our game plan, but he’s unbelievable,” Irving said. “You gotta give credit when credit is due. When he’s making shots like that, it makes it easier for their team to create separation. For us, we would be getting within 4, within 2, and then Steph was hitting some big bombs to create that separation. So that’s a tell-tale sign of a great player.”
Curry and Irving alternated showing off their slick handles, and both hit some deep 3s. Irving scored 19 first-half points while Boston built as much as a 10-point lead, then Curry responded with 33 second-half points as the Warriors built their own 10-point cushion, before Boston made things interesting again in the final minutes.
“They both shot the ball incredible tonight,” Celtics big man Al Horford said. “Kyrie, from the beginning of the game, you knew he was in another zone and Steph, obviously, was the same way. A great battle.”
Said Celtics coach Brad Stevens: “Two studs. It’ll be fun to watch the All-Star game when they go against each other again.”
Irving did admit he gets an extra bit of motivation playing inside Oracle, especially considering all the battles with the Warriors during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s just always great [playing in Oracle],” Irving said. “Because you know that you’re going against a Goliath of a team. And they’re just so special. And we’ve all developed great relationships off the floor. And we’ve been playing against each other in the Finals for the last three years. And now that I’m on a new team, now it’s an even kind of different environment for me now. I have different teammates.
“When I’m going out there, going against them, it’s the same motivation. You want to beat them. And that’s what I try to echo to my team. And I know they feel the same way. To be considered the best you’ve gotta beat the best. And that’s what we try to do.”
Celtics second-year guard Jaylen Brown was asked if Curry brings the best out of Irving.
“I’ve seen Kyrie do that against a lot of teams. I think that’s what he does,” Brown said. “I think he had a good game tonight. Kyrie got it going but he’s one of those ‘best players in the world’-type of players, too, so he can get it going against anybody. Just like Steph did.”