Kyrie Irving receives praise and criticism at about an equal rate. Some believe him to be one of the top point guards in the NBA; others think he's overrated. On Tuesday night, he silenced the doubters for a quarter. With LeBron James mired in foul trouble, the point guard decided to step up to the plate and carry the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back. Behind a historic third quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers moved one step closer to making it back to the NBA Finals.

Irving's amazing third quarter

The Cavaliers trailed by double-digits entering the third quarter. The team needed somebody to lead the charge and turn the game around.

Irving decided it was going to be him, going off for 21 points in the third quarter. He came by those points in all sorts of ways; slashing to the hoop, taking pull-up jumpers from distance, and working off screens -- there was no way to stop him or even slow him down.

All sorts of records fell during this third quarter. His 21 points were the most he had ever scored in a quarter in the playoffs. His nine field goals in the quarter were the most any Cleveland player had ever hit in a playoff quarter. And at the end of the game, his 42 points were the most he had ever put up in a playoff game. Needless to say, "Playoff Kyrie" came back in an incredible fashion.

Cleveland is one win away

Due to James' foul troubles, Irving's contributions went a long way toward the come-from-behind victory, which involved overcoming a 16-point deficit.

For a moment, it looked like the series might return to Boston at a stalemate, which would have been a tremendous upset. Instead, Cleveland has a 3-1 lead, almost assured of facing the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The only thing that would prevent that would be a collapse the team should be familiar with from last year's NBA Finals.

They still have a bit more business to take care of in the Eastern Conference Finals, though. Boston proved over the past two games that, even without star Isaiah Thomas, they aren't going to give up. When the series goes back to Boston, the Cavaliers are going to be given all they can handle once again.

The way Irving played on Tuesday, however -- through an ankle injury, mind you -- suggests that Cleveland isn't prepared to see a Game 6. They will likely end this series once and for all on Thursday night. Then, they will get the opportunity to face Golden State in the final round for the third consecutive year.

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