Celtics

Celtics' Kyrie Irving has motivating message for Jayson Tatum with playoffs approaching

Celtics' Kyrie Irving has motivating message for Jayson Tatum with playoffs approaching

For the Celtics to make a deep playoff run, it goes without saying that they'll need Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum at the top of their respective games.

Irving missed all of last year's postseason, but he looked on as then-rookie Tatum led the C's all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Since Tatum has that playoff experience under his belt plus an entire sophomore season, Irving expects more out of him this time around. 

Both Irving and Tatum appeared on The Players’ Tribune’s “Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles” podcast, and Irving revealed his motivating message for Tatum with the NBA playoffs right around the corner.

Irving also reminded Tatum just how special it is to have been drafted by such a storied franchise in the Boston Celtics.

Irving's treatment of the media and handling of free-agency rumors have subjected the Celtics star to plenty of criticism this season. Irving recently apologized for the way he's gone about his business during the 2018-19 campaign and pledged to do a better job of setting an example for his young teammates.

His motivational message to Tatum is a solid start.

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How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared in Red Claws win over Raptors 905

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared in Red Claws win over Raptors 905

The Maine Red Claws improved to 3-0 on the season Sunday with a 129-115  victory over the Raptors 905.

Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters were the Boston Celtics rookies in the spotlight with No. 14 overall draft pick Romeo Langford out due to a right ankle sprain suffered in Friday night's home opener.

Here's how they performed in the win:

TACKO FALL

Tacko just continues to impress. The 7-foot-5 phenom was a perfect 9-for-9 from the field for a total of 21 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. 

TREMONT WATERS

It was a quieter day for Waters as he tallied only eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, but the second-rounder did notch a game-high 11 assists. Waters also drilled a clutch fourth-quarter three for the second straight game.

Other standouts for the Red Claws included Kaiser Gates (26 points, five rebounds), Jaysean Paige (17 points, eight assists, six rebounds), Yante Maten (17 points, five rebounds), and Bryce Brown (20 points, five rebounds).

Next, the Red Claws will visit the Raptors 905 on Wednesday for a rematch at 7 p.m.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off today at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

There have been strong scoring nights, defensive slugfests and everything in between, for the Boston Celtics who come into today’s game at Sacramento riding a league-best winning streak of 10 in a row. 

And with five straight games out West, the Celtics got things off on the right foot with a 105-100 win at Golden State, the fourth time in the last five years Boston won on the Warriors’ home floor. 

Boston has won its last two games on the Kings’ home floor, and three of the last four. 

Here are five more things you should know about this matchup.

NO FOX HUNTING

The Boston Celtics won’t have to worry about chasing Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox around today after the lightning quick point guard reportedly suffered a Grade-3 ankle sprain (the most severe kind) early last week. The injury is supposed to keep him sidelined for at least a month. Fox is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game this season, along with seven assists and four rebounds which is also a career-best mark for the third-year guard. 

TATUM PART OF EXCLUSIVE CLUB

The scoring by Jayson Tatum this season is a clue as to how much of an impact the third-year forward is making when he’s on the court.

This season, the Celtics have a plus/minus of +134 when Tatum is in the game. How big a deal is that? There are only three players whose plus/minus thus far this season exceeds 100. There’s LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Tatum. That’s it. And of the trio, the plus/minus leader is Tatum followed by James (+109) and Antetokounmpo (+107).

Sacramento’s leader is Richaun Holmes (+31).

TRIPLE THREAT

Prepare to see lot of 3-pointers go down tonight for both Boston and Sacramento. Each team has weaponized the 3-point shot as a key to their offensive strategy this season. The Kings come into today’s game averaging 13.3 made 3-pointers per game which ranks sixth in the NBA. Right behind them at No. 7 is the Boston Celtics who are averaging 13.0 made 3-pointers per game this season.

Leading the 3-point barrage for the Kings is Buddy Hield, one of the league’s top 3-point shooters. He’s averaging 3.6 made 3-pointers per game this season which is good for the No. 4 spot in the NBA. Right ahead of him at No. 3 is Boston’s Kemba Walker who is connecting on 4.3 made 3-pointers per game. 

KINGS GET CROWNED DOWN THE STRETCH

If the Celtics find themselves trailing in the early stages of today’s game, it probably will have more to do with the Kings than anything the Celtics are doing. Several factors have contributed to Sacramento’s 4-7 start this season, but how they begin games scoring the ball isn’t one of them.

Sacramento is +2.4 points per game after the first quarter of play this season which ranks tied for the fourth-best mark in the NBA this season. However, they are a bottom-10 team when it comes to plus/minus in the fourth quarter (-1.3 points, 21st in the league). Meanwhile, the Celtics’ plus-minus of +4.4 in the fourth is second in the NBA to the Los Angeles Clippers (+5.2). 

PAINT PATROL

Minimizing points in the paint is one of the bigger concerns about the Boston Celtics coming into this season. But to their credit, they have done a solid job of not allowing that to be an issue that gets in the way of winning. Boston is allowing 44.2 points in the paint this season which is the eighth-fewest points in the paint allowed per game this season.

Today the Celtics face a Sacramento team that has struggled in many facets of the game with scoring in the paint being among them. This is evident by Sacramento’s offense generating a league-low 39.8 points in the paint per game. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.