Celtics

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving celebrated his 27th birthday doing what he seems to do a lot of lately - get buckets. 

Scoring has been the strength of his game for years, but he is in a rhythm now offensively that we just haven’t seen from him like, ever. 

Irving dropped 31 points but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets rallied for a 124-117 win. 

While it certainly was a disappointing loss for Boston, it continues what has been a red-hot stretch of shooting by Kyrie Irving who extended his streak of games with 30 or more points to a career-best five in a row. 

Here are three pointers from Saturday’s game against Charlotte. 

SAME OL, SAME OL’

Boston had the Hornets on the ropes early in the fourth quarter, seemingly one or two scoring possessions away from calling it a night after a Jayson Tatum bucket put Boston ahead 112-94. 

 But the Hornets closed out the game with a blistering 30-5 run for the win, a victory that was fueled in part by Marcus Smart picking up a few offensive fouls and thus leaving head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to bench him which opened the gateway towards their defeat with Smart saddled on the bench.

“When you lose an 18-point lead, there’s a lot of things that go wrong,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

It was yet another game in which the Celtics let a very winnable game get away from them, the kind of game that will haunt this team going into the postseason - just like so many other games have in the past. 

KEMBA WALKER

No matter how you look at it, Kemba Walker was the best player on the floor. He would lead all scorers with 36 points as part of a near triple-double that included 11 rebounds and nine assists. And Walker was at his best down the stretch when it mattered most, draining one big shot after another in leading the Hornets coming back from 18 points down in the third quarter. 

And as good as Kyrie Irving was, he was very much a non-factor in the fourth quarter when he missed four of his five shot attempts. 

 JAYLEN BROWN

One of the bright spots for Boston was the play of Jaylen Brown off the bench. Continuing his red-hot shooting off the Celtics bench, Brown would finish with 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. 

As Boston inches closer towards the postseason, Brown is positioning himself to be one of the more prominent players off the Celtics bench. In addition to his scoring, Brown has also shown himself to be capable of contributing in other ways as well such as defense. 

“QUOTE, UN-QUOTE”

“We should have probably trapped him more like every other team does in the league but we didn’t. He torches us every time we play them so it’s no surprise.” - Boston’s Kyrie Irving, speaking about Charlotte’s Kemba Walker who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on Saturday. 

UP NEXT

Boston hosts the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. 

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Enes Kanter Show podcast: Back from break healthy, preparing for boos in Utah

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Enes Kanter Show podcast: Back from break healthy, preparing for boos in Utah

It's a 28-game dash to the playoffs for the Boston Celtics that begins in Minnesota Friday night and Enes Kanter is focused on one key element as the C's return to the court for the first time since the weeklong All-Star break.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"Please stay healthy," the Celtics big man told Chris Forsberg on the latest episode of The Enes Kanter Show podcast. "If we all stay healthy, we can beat every team on every floor."

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When we last saw Kanter, he was limping off the floor late in the C's double-overtime victory over the Clippers. He's been bothered by a hip injury but he said he'll be good to go Friday. 

Also on the mend from a hip issue is fellow big man Robert Williams. Though he won't play on Boston's upcoming four-game trip, Williams has had his practice restrictions lifted and Kanter liked what he saw Wednesday as the C's got back to work.

"Rob was amazing. He can change the game,"  Kanter told Forsberg."He hasn't played for like two months and he got a lob and dunked the ball on his first possession. This is special. He just needs to get into game shape."

Kanter also talked about his 1-on-1 battles in practice with Marcus Smart. 

"It's always good because now the NBA is going small, right?" the 6-10 Kanter said of matching up with the 6-3 guard.  "Marcus Smart is one of the best, if not THE best defender out there. When I go against him, I get better. To be able to go against a small guy and try to guard him, it makes him better and makes me better."

Forsberg captured a portion of their showdown on video:

I always try to get under his skin," Kanter said of Smart, "but he's tough mentally."

This trip takes Kanter and the Celtics to Utah, where his NBA career began from 2011-2015. Will he get a warm welcome from Jazz fans?

"I wonder who's going to get more booed me or [Celtics forward and ex-Jazz star] Gordon [Hayward]? Every time I touch the ball, I get booed there," Kanter said.

Because Hayward is a more recent departure, Kanter said he might be able to escape most of the fans' wrath.

"I feel good this time because I've got Gordon."

Check out the Enes Kanter Show each week on NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. 

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

Robert Williams travels with Celtics, but won't play on four-game trip

Robert Williams travels with Celtics, but won't play on four-game trip

BOSTON -- There’s a good chance that at some point on Celtics Pregame Live on NBC Sports Boston before the game Friday in Minnesota, viewers will see Robert Williams III on the floor taking shots. 

Don’t get too excited, Celtics fans. 

Yes, Time Lord will be traveling with the team, and yes, that gimpy hip of his is feeling a lot better. 

But coach Brad Stevens says Williams won’t be playing at any point on the four-game trip. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Still, that he'll be with the team is the kind of progress that indicates his return to games is sooner rather than later. 

Stevens said Williams will another check-up in about a week to make sure that the physical activity that he’s doing between now and then, has not had an adverse effect on his hip which has kept him sidelined for the last 33 games. 

“I’m getting anxious, just knowing I’m a couple of games away,” said Williams. “My first game back, I think is a home game,  so it’s special to me.”

Boston embarks on a four-game trip beginning with Minnesota on Friday, followed by stops in Los Angeles to play the Lakers, then Portland and Utah. The Celtics' next home game is Feb. 29 against the Houston Rockets. 

With no restrictions now at practices, Williams readily admits it can be challenging to contain himself.

“They let me [be] free now, no limitations on anything I’m doing,” Williams said. “So, I want to windmill every time I dunk. But I still have to play it cautious a little bit.”

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.