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.


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:  

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.



WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

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WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Pelicans in New Orleans. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30  p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

As the NBA trade deadline drew near, Celtics Nation was hoping tonight’s matchup between Boston and New Orleans would be Anthony Davis returning to where his pro career began.

He’s still with the Pelicans, doing what Davis has done for most of his career – dominate play.

But there’s a new twist now … he’s also winning. 

That’s why the 6-foot-10 Davis is no longer seen as a player that might be on the move anytime soon. 

He’s not just one of the league’s best players, but a bonafide MVP candidate whose stock as an elite player is even greater since New Orleans lost DeMarcus Cousins (ruptured Achilles tendon) for the season on Jan. 26. 

Since Cousins’ season-ending injury, New Orleans (39-30) has a 12-9 record with Davis averaging 31.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 2.3 steals per game in that span. 

Davis is also averaging 7.8 free throws per game which ranks fourth in the NBA, although you wouldn’t know he was among the league leaders in that category based on the postgame rant by his coach Alvin Gentry following New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday night. 

“A.D. (Anthony Davis) never gets a call,” a visibly angry Gentry told reporters following the loss. “He never gets a call. We talk about them holding him. We talk about them grabbing him on rolls. We talk about them coming under him on post-ups. He never gets a call; not one. And you know why? Because he doesn’t (bleep) complain about it. He just keeps playing the game.”

Regardless of how often he gets to the line, Davis is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season in Cousins’ absence. 

But it’s not like Davis’ stat line this season overall – 28.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 steals – didn’t stand out for all the right reasons, either.

However, Davis’ shine isn’t quite as bright now with the Pelicans losing four of their last five games which has dropped New Orleans (39-30) down to the eighth and final playoff spot and just 1.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (37-31).

So, the Celtics come into town facing not only one of the better teams in the West, but a club that is absolutely starving for a win.

While Boston (47-22) certainly wants to come into the Big Easy and get a victory, its impact on the Celtics’ playoff hopes is non-existent. 

Boston has the second-best record in the East and trail Toronto (52-17) by five games with 13 remaining. They face the Raptors two more times this season, but even if they win both of those games and thus the head-to-head series, it likely won’t come into play because of Toronto likely finishing with the best record in the East. 

And behind Boston in the standings is Cleveland (40-29), another injury-riddled team that’s seven games behind the Celtics in the standing and has shown no signs of threatening to gain ground on Boston. 

So regardless of how the Celtics fare, it’s likely they will remain sandwiched between Toronto and Cleveland in terms of playoff seedings are concerned. 

And that might factor into who plays – and who doesn’t – for Boston in these final few games of the regular season. 

Boston’s Daniel Theis suffered a season-ending torn meniscus injury in his left knee, and Marcus Smart’s right thumb injury will keep him out for the rest of the regular season with the earliest he might be back being the latter stages of the first round of the playoffs, or sometime during the second round if the Celtics advance that far. 

Boston must also make sure Kyrie Irving and his sore left knee, are good to go for the playoffs. In addition, the Celtics must work Jaylen Brown back into the fold after he suffered a concussion that has kept him out of Boston’s last three games. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has made a point of not allowing himself or his players to use their injury situation as an excuse for not playing good basketball. 

But he knows good basketball for his injury-riddled roster, involves players elevating their play.

“We’re going to be in the process of really looking at ourselves and redistributing responsibility on our team without guys going outside of what they do best,” Stevens said, adding, “We’re going to have to figure out how to play our best basketball.”