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Kyrie Irving hurls praise toward Kawhi Leonard

Raptors

The Boston Celtics avenged their early season defeat against the Toronto Raptors in October with a massive 123-116 overtime win against their Eastern Conference rivals on Friday night. Kyrie Irving was a man possessed, scoring a season-high 43 points on 18-of-26 shooting. He also dished out 11 assists and knocked down three trifectas to cap off a spectacular evening.

His superstar counterpart in Toronto, Kawhi Leonard, was also sensational on the night, leading the Raptors with 31 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. After the game, Irving sung his praises for the former Finals MVP.

“[Leonard] is one of the greatest players in our game right now, obviously, so much respect,” Irving told ESPN, per Jack Davies of Sporting News.

“Going against a great team with great complementary players is always awesome, but we wanted to come out and be the aggressive team.

Despite the all-around effort from Leonard, Irving’s masterclass performance just simply overshadowed him. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year almost led Toronto to victory as they were up with under a minute left in regulation. The Raptors had a chance to ice the game down the stretch, but just could not convert on their baskets and make stops on the other end in the final minutes. In addition, Leonard had a clean look at the buzzer to win the game for Toronto, but unfortunately, he came up short. This allowed Irving and the Celtics to finish the job in overtime.

Nevertheless, we will still get two more of these showdowns in the regular season. With these two squads heavily-favored as the two protagonists in the Eastern Conference Finals, their next two meetings should be bloodbaths. Hopefully we’ll get to see more in the post-season.