BOSTON – Well, it looks like we’ll get one more look at the Kyrie Irving-less Boston Celtics tomorrow when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
Irving is slated to miss his third straight game while dealing with a right quadriceps injury suffered at Denver on Monday.
In addition to Irving, the Celtics also list Marcus Morris (left hip) as being out for the Blazers game.
Prior to Boston’s 119-110 win over Atlanta on Friday, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of the players Boston had out with injuries for that game, Irving and Morris had the best shot at playing on Sunday.
In addition to Irving and Morris being out, the Celtics will also be missing Shane Larkin (right knee soreness) and Marcus Smart (right hand laceration) in addition to Gordon Hayward whose rehabilitation from a season-opening ankle injury, continues.
Since Irving’s absence, Terry Rozier has made the most of his increased role.
As the lone point guard with a fully guaranteed contract on the roster, Rozier has been the best player on the floor in Boston’s last two games.
In those two games, he has averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists per game.
In Boston’s 103-73 win over New York on Wednesday, Rozier’s first NBA start, he tallied a triple-double of 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He followed that up two nights later with a career-high 31 points in Boston’s 119-110 win over Atlanta.
The popular narrative surrounding struggling Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is that he’s hit the dreaded “rookie wall.” Another fun theory is that he’s been hampered by a dislocated finger suffered on December 20 vs Miami. One or both may be the cause of his dip in shooting since the start of this calendar year (he went from 58.5 eFG percent in 2017 to 46.2 eFG percent in 2018). But another factor could be respect, or the lack thereof, for Tatum when driving to the hoop.
From October through December, Tatum averaged 4.6 drives per game, coming away with points on 77 percent of those drives (fourth in the NBA). A lot of those points came at the line, as Tatum drew a foul on an NBA-leading 15 percent of his trips to the basket. Since January 1, Tatum is averaging 6.5 drives per game, but is only coming away with points on 55 percent of those drives. Oddly, the Celtics forward is only drawing a foul on 6 percent of his drives over that span, which is 67th in the NBA.
It’s hard to say why he’s no longer getting fouls, but the lack of respect is definitely impacting his overall efficiency. Hopefully the zebras will start treating Tatum like the obvious future Hall of Famer he is in the final stretch of the season.
A buyout seems to be looming for the Atlanta Hawks power forward Ersan Ilyasova.
The 6-foot-10 inch forward is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 46 games played this season. He's on a one-year, $6 million contract with the Hawks.
If he hits the open market, as seems likely, he might be worth a look from the Celtics. A stretch forward who can make 3-pointers is a notable addition to any team.
Ilyasova could ultimately add some size and depth to a guard-heavy Celtics team that's looking to make a deep playoff run come April.