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Kyrie Irving gets the chase down block on the euro-stepping Tyreke Evans

Kyrie Irving, Tyreke Evans

Kyrie Irving produces highlights at a rate as high as any other player in the NBA. He might be the most dazzling ball handler in league history and is a wildly creative finisher around the rim, attributes that combined with his elite off-dribble shooting ability make him not just one of the league’s best offensive players, but also its most exciting.

Defense, though, is where Irving’s game has long needed to improve most. But he committed on that side of the ball in a new way this season despite the Boston Celtics’ up-and-down performance, and if this awesome chase-down block of Tyreke Evans is any indication, seems to be amping up his defensive intensity to an even higher level in the playoffs.

Lefty? Off two feet? This might be the single-most eye-popping defensive play of Kyrie Irving’s career.

The Celtics, by the way, beat Evans’ Indiana Pacers 104-96 on Friday, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the teams’ first-round series.

Irving, after a sensational offensive outing in Game 2, didn’t have it going to the same extent two days later, but nevertheless finished with a double-double of 19 points and 10 assists. It was Jaylen Brown who picked up his relative slack, going 8-of-9 from the field and 4-of-5 from three-point range en route to a game-high 23 points. Indiana had seven players score in double-figures, led by Evans’ 19 points, but managed just 42 percent shooting overall and was outdone by Boston from beyond the arc.

Game 4 is on Sunday, when the Celtics will try to complete a clean sweep of the Pacers at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.