The Boston Celtics are at their best when Kyrie Irving is healthy, in the lineup and producing at a high level offensively.
That certainly was the case Saturday night when the superstar point guard led Boston to a 120-107 win over LeBron James and the rival Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
Irving led the C's with 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting and dazzled the crowd with several highlight-reel dribbles and moves.
The "are the Celtics better without Irving?" debate has been louder than anticipated whenever he's missed games due to injury, and last season's playoff run certainly played a part. While the Celtics do have a good record without him (they should, most of those opponents were bottom-tier), there's one stat that proves they absolutely need him to have any chance of winning an NBA championship: road record.
With the win Saturday night at Staples Center, the Celtics now have the exact same record at home and on the road when Kyrie plays.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 10, 2019
The splits without him, remain pretty dramatic. pic.twitter.com/Ft87hd6nKm
A win percentage of 62 on the road would be the third-best mark in the NBA right now.
Winning on the road in the playoffs is incredibly tough, and Boston found out the hard way without an injured Irving last season when it went 1-7 away from TD Garden.
Irving has a long history of impressive road playoff wins, most notably his 41-point performance in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals while facing elimination against the Golden State Warriors. He also hit one of the most iconic shots in postseason history late in Game 7 of that series to clinch the Cleveland Cavaliers' first championship.
The Celtics sitll might secure home court advantage in the first-round of the 2019 playoffs, but the next three series likely would see Boston beginning on the road. That's not an easy path to the NBA Finals, and if the Celtics are going to overcome it, they need Irving on the court. There's no question about it.
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