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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Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum are NBA playoffs' hardest-working scoring duo

Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum are NBA playoffs' hardest-working scoring duo

More than any other sport's postseason, the NBA playoffs are dominated by the game's biggest stars.

That's why Kyrie Irving was so thrilled to be done with the regular season, and why he's elevated his game to drop a total of 55 points in two first-round wins over the Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics' second-best scorer, Jayson Tatum, is hot on Irving's heels, pouring in 26 points in Wednesday's Game 2 victory after adding 15 points in Game 1.

Just how central have Boston's "Big Two" been to the team's 2-0 start to the playoffs? Consider this eye-opening stat:

Per Boston Sports Info, the fellow Duke alums have scored 53.6 percent (98 of 183) of the Celtics' total points in Games 1 and 2. That's a bigger chunk than any other duo in the NBA playoffs, including the Portland Trail Blazers' super-backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and the Golden State Warriors' feared 1-2 punch of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

There's some manipulation behind these numbers, of course. Only the Pacers have scored fewer points in these playoffs than the Celtics, meaning there's a smaller slice of the offensive pie to go around. Indeed, Irving and Tatum's combined 98 points ranks a distant fifth in overall scoring among teams' top two scorers.

But Irving and Tatum combining for more than half of Boston's offense is a good sign in the NBA postseason, where teams usually travel as far as their star players carry them.

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Celtics vs. Pacers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 3 online

Celtics vs. Pacers live stream: Watch NBA playoffs Game 3 online

The Boston Celtics took care of business at TD Garden. Can they carry that momentum into Bankers Life Fieldhouse?

The Celtics own a 2-0 lead over the Pacers in their first-round NBA playoff series and will look to push Indiana to the brink Friday night in Game 3.

That could be a tall task, as the Pacers led the C's early in the second half of both games in Boston and have put up a fight without star player Victor Oladipo.

But after coming up clutch in Game 2, Kyrie Irving and Co. will look to duplicate their April 5 rout in Indiana and secure a road win that would push the Pacers one game closer to a playoff exit.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Boston begins at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by an 8:30 p.m. ET tip and Celtics Postgame Live immediately after the game.

Here's how and when to watch Celtics vs. Pacers Game 3 online.

When: Friday, April 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Boston
Live Stream: NBC Sports Boston

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.