Kyrie Irving thrives on 'peaceful' feeling of being in the zone

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has described the “peaceful” feeling of being in the zone after starring in a thrilling overtime win Friday for the Celtics against the Raptors.

The game pitted two of the NBA’s biggest stars against each other, as Irving shared the court with Raptors small forward Kawhi Leonard at Boston’s TD Garden.

But it was Irving who came out on top in a 123-116 win, shooting 18 of 26 from the floor to finish with 43 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter. He also dished out 11 assists.

Irving contributed to every Celtics basket in overtime, scoring four and handing out four assists.

“It’s pretty peaceful,” Irving guard said. “Other than fatigue, I don’t think anything else is really on my mind other than just the next play that needs to happen on both ends of the floor.”

The victory was a much-needed confidence boost for a Celtics team that had lost four of its past six games and is now 9-6 this season, and Irving welcomed the opportunity for Boston to test itself against Toronto (12-4), the top team in the Eastern Conference.

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

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

“We got kind of stalled in the third quarter, but we picked it up in the stretch.

“Both teams looked totally different than we did playing in the second game of the season [a 113-101 win for the Raptors]. It’s great to see growth. We’ll see more growth throughout the season, which I’m appreciative of.”

Teammate Gordon Hayward hailed Irving’s contribution, adding: “Man, he made some shots tonight where you’re just like, ‘Wow.’

“You catch yourself being a fan. When he gets into that mode, the whole arena knew where we were going, and so did the Raptors. They just couldn’t stop him.”