Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: 'A good team win' vs. Spurs

Stars, studs and duds: 'A good team win' vs. Spurs

BOSTON – There was sense of jubilation inside the Boston Celtics’ locker room following their 108-94 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
 
Indeed, this wasn’t just another win.
 
This was a victory that was worth celebrating beyond it simply being another successful night to pad the win total.
 
Boston (5-2) beat San Antonio (4-3), a team that has had the Celtics’ number like no one else, a team that came into the TD Garden sporting an 11-game winning streak over the Green Team.

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Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum said he didn’t discover just how dominant the Spurs had been over Boston, until after the game.
 
“Y’all never beat San Antonio? Wow!’” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston he recalled telling his teammates when he was told of the longstanding losing skid.
 
“After I found that out … every win is a big win, but knowing that just added a little something extra,” Tatum said.
 
Brad Stevens, in Stevens-like fashion, didn’t seem overly emotional about the victory.
 
“They’re just a hard team to beat,” Stevens said. “I think a lot of people have struggled against them. They’ve got really good players. Obviously, great coaching. And just a way that they play on both ends of the court that’s really hard to play against.”
 
And while the Spurs were missing Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy), Tony Parker (G-League assignment following quadriceps injury) and Manu Ginobili (rest), San Antonio has often proven itself to be just as dangerous a foe when key players are missing.
 
“They’re the type of team it doesn’t matter who’s out there,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Their system, the way they play. So for us, it was a good team win.”
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s 108-94 Celtics win which extended their winning streak to five straight.
 
 
STARS
 
Kyrie Irving

He began the game with the kind of offensive aggression we have not seen up to this point. He led all scorers with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting along with six assists and three steals.
 
Al Horford

It was another strong game for Horford who tallied his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds with five assists and two steals.
 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

The last couple of games have been offensive stinkers for Brown, who still made a significant impact with his defense. Monday was the best of both worlds for the second-year Brown who had 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting with four rebounds and two assists.
 
Brandon Paul

He got a good chunk of his points when the game was out of reach for San Antonio, but that still shouldn’t take away from a solid night when he tallied a team-high 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting with five rebounds and a blocked shot.
 
 
 
DUDS

LaMarcus Aldridge

With no Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili, the Spurs had to lean heavy on Aldridge. But Aldridge fell well short of delivering for his team, finishing with just 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting which included him going scoreless in the second half while missing all four of his field goal attempts.

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Irving and James look forward to being All-Star game teammates

Irving and James look forward to being All-Star game teammates

LOS ANGELES – When Kyrie Irving arrived in Boston, the questions surrounding him and his relationship with LeBron James kept coming. 

Irving no longer wanted to play with arguably the best player on the planet, for a Cleveland team that would be heavily favored to make it to the NBA Finals for what would have been a fourth-straight year. 

And just like Irving kept his words to a minimum back then when talking about him and James, he’s no different now that they are once again teammates, for one night at least. 

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The new All-Star format involved LeBron James and Stephen Curry, the top vote-getters in the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively, picking their teams from the remaining 22 All-Stars. 

Irving was chosen by James which did not come as a surprise to Irving. 

“I kind of had a feeling which team I was going to be on,” Irving said. “I don’t think Steph would have chosen me with the first pick in the draft. He would have probably chosen bigger size to go with his team. But either way, I was cool with it.” 

And playing with James?

“It’ll be awesome man; it’s great,” Irving said.

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When James was named an All-Star captain, he said he immediately had a plan for Irving. 

“If he was available, I was taking him,” James said.

And while both players understand much has been made of their parting of ways, James continues to squash any talk of there being any lingering beef between them. 

“Listen, anytime I get an opportunity to be with a fellow teammate of mine on the same court, and then you add on the fact of what we were able to accomplish in the three years … you automatically start thinking about the moments,” James said, referring to the Cavs winning it all in 2016.

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Even before the two joined forces in Cleveland, James acknowledged having thought about what it would be like someday to play with Irving.

“There was a time when I was in Miami when I thought about if there was a chance for me to be Kyrie's teammate at All-Star Weekend,” James recalled. “I thought about that. I didn't think it would be possible, and then we became teammates. We were on the same All-Star court together as teammates.

James added, “then, now, being opponents once again, but those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years, when the both of us had magical, magical Finals runs. So it's always special.”

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Horford set on proper career path by 2008 Celtics

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Horford set on proper career path by 2008 Celtics

LOS ANGELES -- Al Horford is credited for consistently being someone whose play contributes heavily to winning games.

But it was in defeat in the playoffs nearly a decade ago to the Boston Celtics that has shaped him into the player we see before us today.

“They were a tough team,” Horford said of the eventual NBA champion Celtics. “Defensively, just as good as they come. They looked like a very together group.”

Horford added, “It helped me tremendously. It helped that team that I was with in Atlanta, a lot. To have that experience, to go against the eventual champions but at that time a veteran team like the Celtics, it really but really made me realize the level I needed to play and the things I needed to do to for the team to be successful.”

And those lessons have helped shape the 31-year-old into being a five-time All-Star whose teams have been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA.

“That first year could not have gone any better. It was a great learning experience and I felt it helped set up the rest of my career,” Horford said.

These days, Horford finds himself as the voice of experience on a Celtics team that has been among the NBA’s best squads for most of this season.

Horford has an open-door policy when it comes to doling out advice and tips for improvement, to his younger teammates.

But he knows first-hand the greatest teacher is experience.

“You can say things but you have to live through different things,” Horford said. “The biggest thing I try to emphasize to them and [Brad Stevens] talks about, is embracing the now. It’s about taking advantage of what we have now. 

Horford added, "I've been in the league, this is my 11th year, you never know if you’re going to have the same teammates next year. That happened to us last year. We had a great year and I look around and it’s only four of us remaining. I just think it’s embracing and taking advantage of doing the best you can with the group you have.”

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