Saturday’s game may have been between two teams, the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, but it quickly turned into a player duel between two of the league’s elite talents. Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving put on a show for the ages, with the former dropping in 49 points on 16-24 shooting, and the latter putting up 37 on 13-18 shooting.
It was, quite simply, mesmerizing. The two star point guards went at each other at every turn, with highlight play after highlight play after highlight play.
Afterwards, both players admitted that they elevate each other’s play every time they go head-to-head. As transcribed by ESPN, Curry was giddy when talking about the game:
[Irving is] an amazing player. The way he saw the game tonight was pretty crazy. 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 was equally laudatory, even in defeat. The Celtics have the league’s top defense, and Irving thought it was on display, and Curry was just that good:
I felt like we did a great job sticking to our game plan, but he’s unbelievable. 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 have a history of this, both in the regular season and in the NBA Finals. They may not quite be the next Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in terms of rivalry (though Curry is entering that tier in terms of talent), but they’re one of the best individual rivalries in the league.
With all the banter and pettiness going on in the league, it’s fun to see two of the best players at their position go at each other with such respect and mutual admiration. And with the Celtics working their way towards being a contender, we could see a lot more of these matchups down the road.
Sounds good to me.