Kyrie Irving hasn’t been here before, but he’s certainly doing a good job of covering it up. In his maiden voyage to the postseason, the fourth-year Cavaliers point guard is off to a blistering start, pouring in 56 points through two games.

Tuesday night, Irving’s 26 points helped steer the Cavs to a 2-0 series lead with a 99-91 victory against the Celtics, who have been a formidable opponent for a Cleveland team that’s making its first playoff appearance since 2010.


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It’s quite a way to introduce yourself to the playoffs, and Irving’s game is built to score in bunches with shifty handles, uncanny finishing ability and a smooth jumper. But what puts the 23-year-old in a unique category is his rise-to-the-occasion demeanor on the floor.

There’s a difference between a player who is capable of making an off-balance 3-pointer and a player who is willing to take such a shot at the buzzer after going the length of the floor in just under six seconds. Irving is the latter. 

“It’s a treat to have a guy like that who can score with the best of them,” co-star LeBron James told reporters Tuesday night. “He’s very poised for a young guy in this type of environment. It’s great to have him out there.”

The arrival of the four-time MVP this season took the spotlight off of him, but Irving’s skill set coupled with his lead-role mentality has stolen it back more than once. 

James is undoubtedly a rise-to-the-occasion type too, but he goes about it in a different way. He can be equal parts scorer, distributor, defender and rebounder. On top of it all, he’s a phenomenal leader. James doesn’t give himself a defined position, and his game reflects that preference. It’s what makes him arguably the best player in the world.

James scored a Game 2-high 30 on Tuesday, but also acknowledged the importance of his leadership with this year’s Cavs team.

“I’ve been in this moment before, and a lot of our guys haven’t,” he told reporters after the game. “I thought it was important for me to put a stamp on this game.”

But Irving is adjusting quickly. Scoring is what he does best, and there’s no need to temper it. The Cavs haven’t really tried to.

Irving’s personality on the floor is only fueled by the pressure that the postseason brings. He’s the new kid on the block, but he won’t play like one. 

After all, he never really has.