Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Scorer like Kyrie 'a luxury' for Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Scorer like Kyrie 'a luxury' for Celtics

BOSTON – Kyrie Irving dropped 36 points on the Philadelphia 76ers, a key factor in Boston (19-4) adding one more log on to the growing pile of victories this season.
 
And this game was like so many for Irving who made it look way, way easier than it should have been.
 
But those who compete with him and play against him realize how talented the 6-foot-3 guard can be, especially in the fourth quarter.
 
Irving’s fourth-quarter scoring was among the keys to Boston’s 108-97 win over Philadelphia.
 
In the fourth, Irving had nine points and in doing so, dashed away any hopes the Sixers had of an upset win.
 
“I mean, I say all the time how spoiled we are to coach players at this level, and he’s certainly one of the most gifted scorers in the game,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said of Irving. “And, you know, he can do things just with a tiny amount of space and make it look easy. And it’s really, really tough. I mean, even the – he made a couple of the one-on-one plays late where he drove it, but even the dribble hand-off shot that he made in the corner, I mean, it was pretty well-defended, and he just has a special ability.”

 Said Al Horford: “It’s a luxury. Not a lot of teams have that. Just his (Irving) will to win and make those shots, when we need it most, just keeps impressing me game by game.”

Here are the other Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-97 win over Philadelphia which improves Boston’s record to a league-best 19-4.
 
STARS
 
Kyrie Irving

When it was winning time, Kyrie Irving once again came through when the Celtics needed him most. He led all scorers with 36 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter.
 
Al Horford

The Sixers were no match for Al Horford whose contributions on Thursday night were everywhere to be seen. He finished with a near double-double of 21 points, eight rebounds in addition to dishing out five assists along with two blocked shots.
 
Dario Saric

With Joel Embiid (rest) out for tonight’s game, the Sixers leaned heavily on Saric who was last season’s runner-up for Rookie of the Year. He had a double-double for Philly, tallying a team-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists.
 
 

STUDS
 
Ben Simmons

The 6-foot-10 “point forward” has triple-double potential every time he steps on the floor. But the Celtics did a decent job of limiting his effectiveness. He had 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting, to go with six rebounds and seven assists. He had a game-high five steals but he also had five turnovers which also led all players on Thursday.
 
Marcus Morris

Remember, if Gordon Hayward (ankle) had not suffered a season-ending injury, Morris would be coming off the bench every night for Boston. And that folks, would be a very good thing. Philadelphia had matchup problems with the 6-9 Morris most of the night, which led to him scoring 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds, three assists and a steal.
 
J.J. Redick

One of the best shooters of this generation, it was just a matter of time before shots started to fall for Redick. He scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half which included him finishing the game 4-for-6 from 3-point range while grabbing three rebounds to go with five assists.
 
Richaun Holmes

He played less than 20 minutes, but his activity around the rim was a major factor in Philadelphia holding their own with the Celtics for most of the game. He finished with nine points on 4-for-7 shooting to go with seven rebounds (three offensive).
 
 

DUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

There are going to be nights when no matter how hard you try, it’s just not going to be your night. That’s how things played out for Jaylen Brown tonight. He missed five of his six shots from the field and finished with just two points. In addition, Brown was the only Celtics player to finish the game with a negative (-9) plus/minus for the game.
 

Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

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Kyrie's injury doesn't appear to be long-term, Morris' knee another story

The quad injury that will keep Kyrie Irving off the floor tonight against Chicago doesn’t appear to be a long-term issue.

The knee bruise that had Al Horford’s availability in question - NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin says he will play tonight - isn’t a serious thing, either.

But it’s unclear just how big a deal Marcus Morris’ left knee issue is going forward.

Prior to Sunday’s 91-81 win at Detroit, the Pistons announced that Morris would miss that game as well as tonight’s matchup against Chicago.

A Yahoo Sports! report said that Morris will miss “extended time” due to the left knee injury that has resulted in him missing 13 games which includes tonight’s game.

“Just like I said the other day, when we found out that he wasn’t feeling as good, we decided that he wasn’t going to play in these two games, we’ll re-evaluate it tomorrow with our docs,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game against Chicago. “That meeting has already been scheduled.”

Morris missed the first eight games of the season to give the left knee soreness a chance to heal and not be as sore. The Celtics began him with a minutes restriction, and increased his playing time gradually while not allowing him to play in back-to-back games.

And this latest flare-up comes at a time when Morris seemed to find a groove at both ends of the floor while providing Boston with some much-needed offensive punch off the bench.

“He played so well against Philly and Phoenix … I thought he looked really good,” Stevens said. “Played that Monday against Milwaukee and then missed the Dallas game, it’s just been kind of going back and forth. And it’s what we said from the get-go, we didn’t want that to happen. But we’ve got to figure it out for him so that he feels great.”

The Chicago Bulls will be short-handed as well tonight.

In addition to Zach LaVine (left ACL) and Cameron Payne (right foot), Chicago will also be without rookie Lauri Markkanen (back spasms) who is averaging 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies this season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

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Irving out, Horford questionable for C's vs Bulls

We have seen the Boston Celtics reach deep into their bench this season, but nothing like what we’ll see tonight against the Chicago Bulls.

Along with Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) who is out for the season and Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) who was ruled out for tonight’s game prior to last night’s win at Detroit, the Celtics will be without at least one of their two remaining all-star players.

Kyrie Irving has been ruled out due to a left quad contusion. And Al Horford, who briefly went to the Celtics’ locker room after a knee-to-knee collision with Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver, is question for tonight’s game with a right knee contusion.

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Horford was able to return to the Celtics’ lineup following the knee-on-knee blow, finishing with a near double-double of 18 points and nine rebounds to go with six assists.

If both Irving and Horford are unable to go, that leaves Boston void of its best scorer (Irving) and most complete player (Horford).

You have to wonder in the case of Horford, whether tonight’s opponent may factor in the decision to sit him or not.

Chicago (5-20) has the worst record in the NBA this season. And while the Celtics respect all opponents, if they are going to give guys some “strategic rest” in season, this would qualify as one of those nights considering the opponent in addition to knowing there won’t be any practice or a game tomorrow (the Celtics, like most teams, take the day off when they play back-to-back games).

We know Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and most likely Aron Baynes will be in the starting lineup. Beyond that, you're probably looking at Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier filling in for Irving, while Horford’s possible replacement will likely be from the trio of Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye or potentially Guerschon Yabusele.

Smart (four starts, 3-1 record) and Theis (two starts, 2-0 record) are the only ones from that group to have been in the starting lineup this season. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE