Celtics

Fewer points scored by Kyrie Irving a good thing for the Celtics?

Fewer points scored by Kyrie Irving a good thing for the Celtics?

Kyrie Irving. Buckets.

It’s hard to imagine one without the other, in an NBA game.

While Irving reserves all rights to unleash the offensive firepower that has made him a perennial all-star most of his NBA career, he’s here to tell you that he will be the last one trippin’ over nights like Saturday when he tallied an atypical stat line of just three points scored.

It was only the fifth time in Irving’s career in which he has scored three points or less in an NBA game.

Of course, Irving would love to score more points.

It’s something the 26-year-old has proven himself to be really good at, for a long time.

But this Celtics team … it’s different.

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And the role Irving has to play in order for the Celtics to be their best, requires him to adapt his game at times in a way that may not be all that pleasing to Kyrie Irving fantasy league owners out there.

It is indeed an adjustment, one that Irving admits is very much a work in progress on his part.

“The clear realization is this is not what I’m used to,” Irving said after Boston’s 109-89 win at Detroit. “Going from being a high PPG (points per game) scorer, being stat-dominated and coming to this type of environment where the best thing for us is to care about the team. It’s not going to be everyone’s night every single night, but I know that when it gets down the stretch, when I’m needed I’ll be ready. So, it’s a learning experience for me.”

Irving embracing the idea that sometimes less scoring is more beneficial to the team’s overall success, and speaks to his own personal growth as a player.

As the leader of this team, it's also yet another way in which Irving is showing the kind of leadership that he has never really had a chance to exhibit, particularly with a team that has the kind of depth and talent of this Celtics squad.

And as we saw in Saturday’s blowout win, Irving knows how to impact the game in ways besides scoring, as he tallied five assists along with seven rebounds.

“This is one of the most talented if not the most talented team I’ve ever played with,” Irving said. “It’s just getting those guys open shots and making the right play.”

And it is that latter point raised by Irving -- making the right play -- which has to be at the heart of his decision-making as it relates to this team.

“It’s easy to go back and be selfish and care about the outside world and what they want you to do,” Irving said. “It’s even harder to learn on a day-to-day basis of how to be a better teammate, a better player. These guys look to me for emotional relief. If I’m out there being distressed, we’re all going to be distressed so for me I try to be cool as much as possible.”

And sometimes cool means getting others involved, playing the role of decoy knowing there are others who can step up like Daniel Theis (17 points, eight rebounds), Marcus Morris (18 points, eight rebounds) or Irving’s backup Terry Rozier (14 points, seven rebounds).

“Everyone is used to me scoring this-amount of points or doing this at a certain standard and so am I,” Irving said. “The important thing is us winning games and getting to the (NBA) Finals. So, that’s where it is.”

Welcome to Kyrie Irving’s New Basketball World Order where the days of him being a night-in, night-out high scorer may be in the past. Instead of focusing on scoring a ton of points, Irving seems locked into making just one point every night – to win even if it means scoring less.  

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Boston Celtics vs. Denver Nuggets live stream: Watch NBA game online

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Boston Celtics vs. Denver Nuggets live stream: Watch NBA game online

The Boston Celtics came up just short the last time they faced the Denver Nuggets. They'll get a shot at revenge Friday night at TD Garden.

During the C's West-Coast road trip in November, Boston fell to Denver 96-92. More notable than the game itself was Kemba Walker going down with a scary neck injury and being taken off the court on a stretcher. Fortunately, Walker turned out OK and will look to lead the Celtics to a W in front of the home crowd.

Boston is coming off a 112-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night in which Jaylen Brown dropped 31 points and Walker added 28.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 8 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app. 

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BEFORE THE GAME: At 7 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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Smart: Oblique 'feels a lot better,' plans to play tonight vs Nuggets

Smart: Oblique 'feels a lot better,' plans to play tonight vs Nuggets

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics are likely to have their defensive leader Marcus Smart back on the floor Friday night. 

Smart, who suffered an oblique bruise on Sunday, said he plans to return when the C's host the Denver Nuggets. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart participated in the team’s walk-through this morning although that normally does not involve contact. 

Following the walk-through, Smart was put through a series of drills that included contact, along with him moving laterally and as over and under screens - the kind of movements he’ll have to make quite often in a game. 

“The soreness is at a lower level,” Smart said. “It really doesn’t stop me with my movements; my breathing is getting better, a lot better.”

And on top of the oblique bruise, Smart also caught a cold that transitioned into flu-like symptoms which, more than the oblique, was at the root of him not playing on Wednesday against the Miami Heat. 

While he’s not quite 100 percent, Smart said he feels he’s good enough to get on the floor and help the Celtics try to extend their home winning streak to nine. 

Smart said he will undergo additional testing of the oblique between now and tip-off.

“We just got done doing a lot of contact,” Smart said. “We’ll see if the oblique is fine. It held up well, really well. I’m proud of the results, they’re [Celtics medical and conditioning staff] proud so we’ll see what they say.”

This is the second time this calendar year that Smart suffered an oblique injury. 

The previous one was last spring and kept Smart out for nearly a month. 

Back then, he wore a flak jacket to help protect the oblique from additional damage and in all likelihood he’ll wear one tonight. 

“We tried it when I came back the first time,” Smart said. “The thing with the padding is, you tend to get hit where the padding is. Some way, somehow, you find yourself still injured with the padding. We’ll have to discuss that and see where it goes. Most likely, I will be trying some type of extra padding around the oblique area.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.