Dallas Mavericks' Kyrie Irving Speaks on Playing Against Clippers' James Harden

Kyrie Irving is playing against and guarding his former star teammate in a seven-game series, which provides a unique opportunity for the Mavericks star.
Nov 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) moves the ball
Nov 25, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) moves the ball / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks playing against the LA Clippers in the playoffs is nothing new. The two are consistent foes in the postseason and seem to provide an entertaining series each time around, no matter the circumstance.

This time around, though, the series offers a unique wrinkle. Mavericks star Kyrie Irving and Clippers star James Harden are former teammates, now facing off in a playoff series, with Irving often finding himself guarding Harden.

The series was evened up in Los Angeles in Game 2, a game in which the Mavericks used defense to win the game on the road and square things up heading back to Dallas.

"I think the true testament of greatness is being able to adapt with other great players and not lose your identity and, you know, not fall into the victimization of external distractions and, you know, people telling you what you should be and how you should play," Irving said on Wednesday.

The duo of Luka Doncic and Irving provides some of the most offensive firepower across the entirety of the NBA. They didn't lose that while making an extra effort on the defensive side of the ball. They scored a combined 55 points in the 96-93 victory, though both stars played some incredible defense throughout the matchup.

Irving also had the opportunity to talk about his time playing alongside Harden and how that helped him understand Harden while being on the opposing team.

"I think me and James didn't get enough reps. We played a few games together, but we didn't get enough reps. But when you're playing with somebody that special, it makes the game easier," Irving said. "But playing against them, you can tell that when he comes out with an aggressive mindset, it's a different team and we just got to be ready for his ISO basketball and his one-on-one capabilities and his ability to make his teammates better."

Irving and Harden are two elite offensive talents, now both playing alongside superstar teammates. Irving has helped the Mavericks and Doncic to become one of the most talented offenses in the league and the additional effort on the defensive side of the ball raises the team's ceiling to a championship-level team.

"It's good to be on the other side, definitely missing him, but at the same time, glad that we get to compete against each other now," Irving continued.

The series is headed to Dallas on Friday night as the Mavericks and Clippers are tied 1-1. The matchup between the former teammates looks like it could be a longer, entertaining series.

READ MORE: Dallas Mavericks Win Game 2 To Tie Series Against Clippers: 3 Game-Changing Plays

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Kade Kimble


Kade has been covering a wide variety of teams ranging from the NFL to the NBA and college athletics since joining Sports Illustrated's FanNation in 2022.