Celtics

The point is Kyrie can dish it out, too

The point is Kyrie can dish it out, too

BOSTON – Since coming to Boston, the Celtics have leaned on Kyrie Irving to deliver offensively. And more nights than not, the four-time All-Star does just that with his ability to generate points.

But the 25-year-old has made a point of making sure his teammates score as well, as was the case in the 124-118 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

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In addition to his team-high 33 points against the Nuggets, Irving also managed to dish out seven assists, which served as yet another reminder that while he is among the best in the game at scoring, he also understands the value in being a facilitator and its importance in helping Boston remain among the best teams in the NBA.  

“We need all of it,” Irving said. “It’s the same trust I have in them, they have to have in me to be able to deliver those passes. When we’re on that same mindset, it works out pretty well for us. And even if the shots weren’t falling how we wanted them to, when you give the right energy to the game, it’ll come right back. It’ll all even out so I felt it did that for us tonight.”

Here are five other takeaways from the shootout victory over Denver:  

LOSS? WHAT LOSS?
When it comes to regrouping after a loss, no one does it quite like the Celtics. Since losing the first two games of the season, Boston has four additional losses. The outcome after each defeat has been a Celtics victory. And the win over Denver on Wednesday was the first bounce-back win in which Boston didn’t win by double figures. “It’s so many games in this league, we learn from our mistakes,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “We re-focus and just … forgot about last game whether we play good or play bad.”

STEVENS’ SENSE OF HUMOR
Following the win, Brad Stevens was asked about Jaylen Brown who reverted back to wearing contacts after playing the last couple games with goggles following some right eye irritation due to him sleeping with his contacts. Stevens said the team has had a few laughs in “retro-spec” about Brown’s eye issues. “That’s pretty good. Been thinking about that (retro-spec joke) all week.”

PATH TO VICTORY VARIES
We have seen Boston’s success often come down to its defense which is considered the best in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. And they have had stretches in which their offense got them over the hump. But the Nuggets game was the first we’ve seen this season in which their offense had to carry them pretty much the entire night, evident by Boston scoring a season-high 124 points while shooting a shade under 60 percent, which was also a season high.

NO HORFORD HURTS DEFENSE
You figured no Al Horford would not be a good thing for the Celtics defense. His absence on the night the Celtics played one of the league’s more prolific shooting teams resulted in something like what we saw. Boston struggled to defend the Nuggets most of the night, giving up the most points (118) this season in a victory. And while Denver’s play had a lot to do with that, Horford’s absence was just as important.

TOUGH SCHEDULE
The Celtics were the first team to play 30 games this season, which says a lot about how challenging their schedule has been from a wear-and-tear standpoint. It won’t get any easier anytime soon. The Celtics hit the unofficial halfway point of the season – 41 games played – on Jan. 3.

 


 

Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

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Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

BOSTON – Brad Stevens said Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving will sit out tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Irving aggravated his shoulder in Boston’s 116-113 overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday, and was held out of the team’s practice on Wednesday. 

Without Irving, Boston will start Marcus Smart in the backcourt along with Jaylen Brown, with the frontcourt consisting of the usual trio of Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
 
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
 
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
 
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
 
 

TATUM’S SHOOTING

Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
 

TEMPER, TEMPER

The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”

ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES

Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).

POPULARITY ON THE RISE

The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.

JERRYD BAYLESS

With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

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