BOSTON – Since coming to Boston, the Celtics have leaned on Kyrie Irving to deliver offensively. And more nights than not, the four-time All-Star does just that with his ability to generate points.
But the 25-year-old has made a point of making sure his teammates score as well, as was the case in the 124-118 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.
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In addition to his team-high 33 points against the Nuggets, Irving also managed to dish out seven assists, which served as yet another reminder that while he is among the best in the game at scoring, he also understands the value in being a facilitator and its importance in helping Boston remain among the best teams in the NBA.
“We need all of it,” Irving said. “It’s the same trust I have in them, they have to have in me to be able to deliver those passes. When we’re on that same mindset, it works out pretty well for us. And even if the shots weren’t falling how we wanted them to, when you give the right energy to the game, it’ll come right back. It’ll all even out so I felt it did that for us tonight.”
Here are five other takeaways from the shootout victory over Denver:
LOSS? WHAT LOSS?
When it comes to regrouping after a loss, no one does it quite like the Celtics. Since losing the first two games of the season, Boston has four additional losses. The outcome after each defeat has been a Celtics victory. And the win over Denver on Wednesday was the first bounce-back win in which Boston didn’t win by double figures. “It’s so many games in this league, we learn from our mistakes,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “We re-focus and just … forgot about last game whether we play good or play bad.”
STEVENS’ SENSE OF HUMOR
Following the win, Brad Stevens was asked about Jaylen Brown who reverted back to wearing contacts after playing the last couple games with goggles following some right eye irritation due to him sleeping with his contacts. Stevens said the team has had a few laughs in “retro-spec” about Brown’s eye issues. “That’s pretty good. Been thinking about that (retro-spec joke) all week.”
PATH TO VICTORY VARIES
We have seen Boston’s success often come down to its defense which is considered the best in the NBA in terms of defensive efficiency. And they have had stretches in which their offense got them over the hump. But the Nuggets game was the first we’ve seen this season in which their offense had to carry them pretty much the entire night, evident by Boston scoring a season-high 124 points while shooting a shade under 60 percent, which was also a season high.
NO HORFORD HURTS DEFENSE
You figured no Al Horford would not be a good thing for the Celtics defense. His absence on the night the Celtics played one of the league’s more prolific shooting teams resulted in something like what we saw. Boston struggled to defend the Nuggets most of the night, giving up the most points (118) this season in a victory. And while Denver’s play had a lot to do with that, Horford’s absence was just as important.
The Celtics were the first team to play 30 games this season, which says a lot about how challenging their schedule has been from a wear-and-tear standpoint. It won’t get any easier anytime soon. The Celtics hit the unofficial halfway point of the season – 41 games played – on Jan. 3.