Irving channeling 2016 as Mavs plot NBA Finals rally

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

DALLAS – Kyrie Irving is drawing from the experience of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA Finals comeback as he attempts to help dig the Dallas Mavericks out of an 0-2 hole against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.
The Mavericks host their first game of the NBA Finals on Wednesday, desperate for victory after dropping the opening two road games of the best-of-seven series in Boston last week.
For Irving, the situation is eerily familiar to his experience with the Cavaliers eight years ago, when Cleveland went 2-0 down to the dominant Golden State Warriors before rallying and eventually winning the series 4-3 with victory in game seven.
Irving, who famously shot the game-winning three-pointer in the series decider against the Warriors in 2016, sees parallels between his past and present.
“It took a lot of will to win in 2016,” Irving said.
“We had time to fail together. We had time to go through our trials together. We lost in 2015.
“A lot of guys came back in 2016 and we won. So there was an inner motivation there. We also knew who we were going against, how well they played.”
Instead of being daunted by the challenge posed by the top-seeded Celtics, Irving wants his teammates to view their situation as “an opportunity to respond.”
“That’s all you can ask for in a basketball season,” he said.
“If you asked me in September or October, would I want a chance to be down 0-2 and having a chance to respond in Game 3 or be out of the playoffs, I think I would choose the former. It’s as simple as that.
“We’re the only teams left. This is about chess. That’s all it is.”
If the Mavericks are to haul themselves off the canvas, Irving knows he will need a more productive game after misfiring so far.
In games one and two against Boston, Irving scored a mere 28 points and was 13-of-37 from the floor, and 0-of-8 from three-point range.
“First thing is just accepting that I haven’t played well or up to my standards, as well as I would have liked,” Irving said.
Irving also believes that the scorelines from the first two games of the series don’t do Dallas justice.
“The margin of their victories hasn’t really displayed the full story in terms of the Celtics beating us,” Irving said.
“We just have to continue to lean in on each other, especially when it gets tough out there. We’re going against a great team.
“We know what we’re in for. But now we have to raise it to an even higher level, and it starts with me.”
Dallas coach Jason Kidd, meanwhile, hopes the home support can emulate the raucous atmosphere he experienced as a player in 2011 as a member of the Mavericks last championship-winning team.
“This is an incredible atmosphere,” Kidd said. “To win that championship in 2011, the city is incredible. They love their Mavs.
“To win it then and now to be here in 2024 is special because you don’t really get an opportunity to do that.
“I understand the opportunity that I have to be the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. It’s a dream come true.
“But we’re trying right now to figure out how to win one game, and that’s the next one tomorrow night.”



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