Celtics

Irving scores 35 as Celtics win ninth in a row, 110-107 over Hawks

Irving scores 35 as Celtics win ninth in a row, 110-107 over Hawks

The way Al Horford has played defensively, there has been increasing talk about him as a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

But considering the play of Kyrie Irving at both ends of the floor, and his ability to deliver in the clutch -like he did in Boston’s 110-107 win over Atlanta, it’s only a matter of time if he continues along this path that he’ll be in the mix for the league MVP award.

Yes, Irving has been that good and because of that, the same can be said for the Celtics (9-2) whose winning streak lives on following a 110-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Irving led all scorers with 35 points while Jayson Tatum (21 points, 8 rebounds) had a solid game as well. Celtics big man Al Horford had a near triple-double against his former team with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder had a team-high 23 points while Dewayne Dedmon and Marco Belinelli each had 19 points.

During Boston’s nine-game winning streak which is the longest current streak in the NBA, this was the closest they had come to defeat.

A 3-pointer by Atlanta’s Malcolm Delaney put the Hawks ahead 103-101 with 2:06 to play, only for the Celtics to bounce back and close out the game with a 9-4 spurt that included big shots by Irving and Tatum.

The Hawks, coming off a big win at Cleveland on Sunday night, had played well enough for most of the game to pull off a second upset in as many nights.

A 3-pointer by Kent Bazemore put the Hawks ahead 96-95 only for Irving to come right back with a short jumper that put the Celtics back up by one, 97-96.

From the very outset of the game, it was clear that the Hawks weren’t going to allow Boston to extend their winning streak without a fight.

Atlanta scored the game’s first four points, but Boston countered with a 9-0 run.

That would be the largest lead by either team in the first quarter which ended with the Celtics ahead 26-25 as Boston closed the quarter out with a 6-0 spurt.

The game remained relatively close in the second quarter, even as Kyrie Irving began to find his rhythm, tallying 15 of his 16 points in the second quarter which ended with the score tied at 54.

Boston’s defense got going in the third quarter, limiting the Hawks to 21 points on 7-for-21 shooting along with out-rebounding the Hawks 13-6 as they pulled ahead for an 82-75 lead going into the fourth quarter.

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Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

If there's anyone who knows what it takes to be a champion, it's Paul Pierce. So when the Celtics legend speaks, it would be best for the current team's young stars to heed his words.

According to a report from Boston.com, Pierce touched on what this current squad needs to learn if they want to hang the team's eighteenth championship banner from the rafters of TD Garden.

"When you have that type of talent, they're going to have to learn to sacrifice," Pierce said at a charity event in Brookline on Friday morning. "Not everybody is going to be able to accomplish maybe the individual goals they want to accomplish, but the team's greater goal should be all that matters."

The Celtics, who have made the Eastern Conference Finals the past two seasons but were vanquished both times by LeBron James' Cavaliers, saw perhaps their greatest obstacle in competing for a championship disappear when James signed with the Lakers in free agency. With one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, Boston has built a team capable of getting over the hump and winning a title.

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"You have to sacrifice if you are truly committed to winning a championship," Pierce added. "They're going to win a lot of games, but unless they sacrifice--because we know they're going to be better than probably what their numbers show--if they can sacrifice they'll win a championship this year. Because the talent is definitely there."

If there is one player on the current roster who can show that championship mentality to young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it's Kyrie Irving. However, much of the talk surrounding Irving, who won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, this offseason has been about him potentially leaving Boston after the season in free agency.

"Kyrie is a competitor," Pierce said. "He's won a championship. He knows -- if they win again he'll get whatever contract he wants. He's an extraordinary talent and he knows that winning trumps everything. If you win, everybody wins."

The Celtics start their quest for their eighteenth title on October 16 when they host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Watch: Gordon Hayward dunks over defender

Watch: Gordon Hayward dunks over defender

Gordon Hayward's return from his ankle injury seems to be as close to complete as it could before training camp. 

In a video posted by his trainer Jason Smeathers, Hayward can be found blowing by a defender off the dribble and dunking on him with two hands. 

Soon, the defender will hopefully be someone like Ben Simmons or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Hayward's recovery has been well documented, giving Celtics fans a constant progress report of where their star forward was in his path back to the TD Garden floor. 

There have been questions surrounding Hayward's return to a team that made it to Game 7 of the conference finals without him, but there was never gaps in information regarding his recovery.

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