Count LeBronJames of the Cleveland Cavaliers as one of the millions of NBA fans across the country who watched the duel between KyrieIrving of the Celtics and StephenCurry of the Warriors during Golden State's 109-105 victory Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
Curry got the best of Irving, the former Cavaliers point guard who asked for and was granted a request to be traded Aug. 22, being sent to Boston in exchange for IsaiahThomas, JaeCrowder, AnteZizic, Brooklyn's unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick and Miami's second-rounder in 2020.
The former unanimous Most Valuable Player fired in 49 points -- including 33 in the second half -- and added five assists and two steals in 37 minutes for the Warriors, who improved their record to an NBA-best 40-10. Golden State is on pace for 66 wins this season.
Irving, on the other hand, posted 37 points, two rebounds and 4 assists in 37 minutes for the Celtics (35-10), who still lead the Eastern Conference standings despite losing five of their last six games.
Curry shot 67 percent (16 of 24) from the floor, including 8-of-13 from 3, and was 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
"We bring the best out of each other and he's always battling," Curry told ESPN after the game. "He's an amazingly talented player who can do some crazy things on the floor whether I play good defense or not."
Irving was even better from the field, shooting 72 percent (13 of 18), including 5-of-6 from deep, and was 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Count KevinDurant of the Warriors impressed with the show Curry and Irving put on.
When asked how good Boston is, Curry was careful... this time.
"I’m not answering that," he said. "I got in trouble last time."
Curry said after the first meeting in Boston, that Boston is nice in June.
"They’re a great team," he continued. "They’re going to be a tough out in the East, no matter who they play.
"That’s great preparation for us as we try to build those habits and that playoff mentality toward the end of the season."
Golden State coach SteveKerr felt the intensity of the contest.
"These are always interesting games when you know you have a chance to be in The Finals and you know kind of who the potential opponents are," Kerr said. "You always play closer attention for that reason."
How good was this game? So good, even Dan Rather took notice.