Pain-free Kyrie Irving ready to lead Celtics to NBA title

September 22 2018 3:52 PM

Kyrie Irving is healthy, motivated and ready to lead the Boston Celtics to their first NBA championship since 2008. 

The five-time All-Star's season was ended in March after two procedures on his problematic left knee and missed the Celtics' run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Irving has been pushing himself hard during the offseason and believes he can take his game to a higher level in his second term with Boston.

"I'm moving completely differently," Irving told ESPN.

"I've worked on my strength and have a heightened awareness of what my body needs on a day-to-day basis. I spent all summer trying to get my left leg to catch up with my right. And it's there.

"Now when I go to the rim I'm able to maintain my strength and athleticism, so when I get under there I have all sorts of options. No limitations. I can pick my spots. It's a lot better."

In addition to the return of Irving, star forward Gordon Hayward is back and healthy after his horrific ankle injury suffered in last year's season opener.

The fact the Celtics made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without their two stars has the team's hopes high for an even better finish to the upcoming season.

 "Can we beat Golden State in a seven-game series? Yes," Irving said. 

"Because of who we have and what we're establishing here, not just for this season, but for hopefully for the next few years, something that's pretty special.

"I've played against Golden State in three straight Finals [2015-17] - two that I was able to participate in.

"I've seen them up close. I've played them so many times … I know what it takes."

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