Stars, studs and duds: Brown takes advantage of attention paid to Kyrie

Stars, studs and duds: Brown takes advantage of attention paid to Kyrie

BOSTON – When Kyrie Irving is on the floor, defenses can’t help but gravitate towards him.

And that night-in, night-out pull creates lots of opportunities for his teammates to be aggressive offensively with little resistance from defenses.

And with so many different scorers, you never know who is going to have it going.


On Wednesday night, it was Jaylen Brown whose early scoring put the Sacramento Kings in the kind of hole they could never dig themselves out of.

And with the rest of the Celtics getting in the act, the beatdown was on as Boston crushed the Kings, 113-86.

Brown, who had 22 points, shared game-high scoring honors with Irving.

And while Brown attributes his red-hot shooting to “just letting it fly,” that becomes a lot easier when teams spend so much time focusing on how to limit the impact of Irving as well as Al Horford who has gotten off to a strong start this season.

“Kyrie and Horford are going to draw so much attention, especially Kyrie,” Brown said. “I mean, I’m just licking my chops every time they double Kyrie or whoever so I’m just trying to stay as ready as possible, trying to take the pressure off them. They gotta guard me, Jayson (Tatum), (Marcus) Smart, and Terry (Rozier), too.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 113-86 win which extends the Celtics’ winning streak to six straight.



Jaylen Brown

It was another night in which Brown got the job done at both ends of the floor. In addition to another strong job defensively, Brown also scored 22 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with six rebounds.

Kyrie Irving

He delivered yet another strong performance, tallying a game high-tying 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field.

Zach Randolph

The 36-year-old Randolph was easily the most efficient performer for the Kings. He led all Sacramento starters with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting while grabbing five rebounds.



Daniel Theis

Few players on this Celtics roster seem to get more production in limited minutes, the way Theis does. He tallied his first career double-double, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.

Terry Rozier

Marcus Smart may be the engine of Boston’s second unit, but Terry Rozier is looking more and more like the man behind the wheel that directs the show. He led the Celtics scorers off the bench with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting. And while it didn’t necessarily show up in the final stats, he did a nice job of making sure players were where they needed to be at both ends of the floor.

Buddy Hield

He finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, but Hield has to do a better of taking care of the basketball. The Kings turned the ball over 15 times, with five of those miscues attributed to Hield.



Willy Cauley-Stein

The defensive-minded big man was anything but that on Wednesday. And his offense wasn’t any better as he scored just two points while missing three of his four shot attempts and grabbing just three rebounds. Boston had seven players who finished with as many or more rebounds than Cauley-Stein.


Celtics finding ways to win without Kyrie Irving

File Photo

Celtics finding ways to win without Kyrie Irving

As expected, Kyrie Irving’s first regular season with the Boston Celtics is over following a procedure on his left knee Saturday that team officials described as being "minimally invasive," that will keep him sidelined until the playoffs.

Not having Irving for the final 10 games of the regular season is certainly disappointing for Boston, but it won’t have the kind of devastating impact one might expect a team to have to endure when the leading scorer is out for a significant chunk of time.

Friday’s 105-100 win over Portland was Boston’s fifth straight game without Irving, and 12th this season.


There’s no question Boston is a better team when he is in the lineup.

But when he’s not, the Celtics have continued to find ways to win games which is evident in their 8-4 record when Irving has not played.

Victories over teams like the Blazers only validates the quality depth that the Celtics players speak of when they talk about their team. 

“We know what we have,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “It is encouraging for our group. And for us it’s to make sure we keep working and understand when we commit on the defensive end, we’re a tough team to beat.”

But Horford acknowledges the challenge to be successful becomes infinity greater when key players such as Irving are out.

“We can’t dwell on the guys who are not here, the guys who are injured,” Horford said. “It’s tough, but it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and guys have really taken advantage of that opportunity. We’re trying to move forward. It’s hard but we don’t have an option.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 105-100 win at Portland on Friday night.


The ability to not just run a team but do so in an effective, steady manner is what separated Shane Larkin from most of the guys who saw action last night. He made timely shots, kept the ball moving (he had seven assists and just one turnover) while playing at a really good tempo which was apparent as he finished with a pace of 95.97 which was tops among all Celtics players.


Greg Monroe could not have picked a better time to play his best basketball of the season. Against the Blazers, he came off the bench and tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The 10 boards were particularly impressive with a team-best rebounding percentage of .303 and team-best usage percentage of .316 which speaks to how Boston made a point of going to Monroe early and often when he was on the floor.


It was another big-time scoring night for Marcus Morris who led all scorers with 30 points, easily becoming a fixture as Boston’s go-to guy now that Kyrie Irving (left knee) will miss the rest of the regular season. And like Irving, Morris is doing it in an extremely efficient manner. Against the Blazers, the 6-foot-8 forward was 9-for-13 (69.2 percent) shooting from the field with an effective field goal percentage eFG% of .885.


For most of Friday’s game, Jayson Tatum was not having a good game offensively with three points through three quarters of play. But Tatum, one of the NBA’s better fourth quarter players, was once again saving his best for last. He would go on to lead the Celtics with 10 points in the fourth quarter, which was a huge factor in Boston’s comeback victory.


The Celtics’ second unit looks a little different, but the production and overall impact remains strong as ever. Boston’s backups outscored their Portland brethren 26-10. But more than the points, Boston’s backups individually came up with big plays. Greg Monroe’s 10-point, 10-rebound performance stood out for obvious reasons. But the floor leadership of Shane Larkin and timely contributions from Guerschon Yabusele was also important in the win.


Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Sometimes we forget that a big part of why Brad Stevens is in Boston is because of what he has done as a coach this time of year.

He led a pair of Butler teams to deep postseason runs before coming up short in a pair of national title games.

Well, he’s embarking on a different kind of March Madness in leading the Celtics to a string of improbable wins, the latest being a 105-100 victory at Portland on Friday night.

It was the kind of victory that when you start to roll out the reasons why Stevens should be this season’s Coach of the Year winner, folks will use the win at Portland as an example.

The Blazers are not only one of the better teams at home, but they came in having won 13 of 14 games with the lone loss coming to Houston, which has the best record in the NBA.

But what made the victory so unexpected was the cut-and-paste lineup Stevens has employed because of a long rash of injuries.

Kyrie Irving missed his fifth consecutive game and is expected to be lost for another three to six weeks after having a procedure to on Saturday to help alleviate some of the soreness in his left knee.

Jaylen Brown has missed several games with a concussion, but he has progressed to where he's now questionable for the game in Sacramento on Sunday night. 

Boston was also without Marcus Smart (right thumb) who won’t be back until sometime in the playoffs.

And that doesn’t factor in Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) or Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee), both out for the season.

It’s easy to chalk up Stevens’ success to great Xs and O’s work.

But he’s doing more than that.

He’s inspiring a level of confidence in players that generated results exceeding all expectations; that is, expectations outside of their locker room.

Even when this team struggled with no clear signs of hope on the horizon, they didn’t blink.

Rather than use their less-than-ideal state as a justification for poor play, they funneled that energy and focus into becoming a better team - not better players, but a better team.

Because frankly, that is what we’ve seen from this group all season. Of course, you have your star in Irving, but this team has been a get-it-done-or-else squad all year that doesn’t get too locked into the success or struggles of any one teammate.

And that has allowed Boston to withstand the kind of injuries to key players that would have crippled many other teams.

But with the lack of bodies, there has been a lack of respect for how good this team really is.

Stevens has tapped into that and used it to help focus this team on playing great and most important, giving themselves a chance to win regardless of the opponent, regardless of how dire a situation may be.

And that has created the kind of March Madness Celtics fans are absolutely lovin’ right now.