Category Archives: Kyrie Irving

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Your Morning Dump… Where Kyrie Irving issued a halftime challenge

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think that at the half Kyrie just challenged all of us to be better — and coach, as well,” said Horford, who squeezed 18 points into 23 minutes. “And I felt like we came out with better energy, played much harder.”
As for everyone taking that kind of talk the right way, he said, “It’s very important. I think that in order for us to grow and become better as a team, if things are not right, we need to, within each other, we have to come together to find a way and understand that we all want to win. So that’s what happened tonight.”
Said Irving, “It wasn’t so much a challenge, I think — you can see it up here (pointing to the whiteboard), this is my X’s and O’s right here — just more or less just knowing kind of how the defense was playing us and also defensively what we were doing. I feel like we were pretty solid. It’s just making it a little more difficult in the second half. But offensively, it felt like they were trying to take the ball out of my hands, or at least be up to touch, and just the reads off of that. And then you saw the opportunities open up in the second half as we were being more active off the ball. Just telling these guys, as consistent as possible, you don’t have to touch the basketball every single play down to be effective. You can be effective doing the little things, and that’s what we did in the second half.”
Herald
I’m all in on Kyrie Irving the leader. Granted, he’s an over-talker but this isn’t about words.
Irving is and has been a dominant offensive player. But what’s really setting him apart this year is the defense. The guy is busting his ass and hitting the floor like we’ve never seen.
The numbers support my/your eyes. His Def Rtg (103.1) is a hair better than last season and light years better than anything he produced in Cleveland (where he was notoriously awful). Rebounds (both offensive and defensive), blocks and steals are all up. Look at any defensive metric you want and the numbers are good. He’s also sharing the ball (career-high 6.6 apg).
Speaking of assists, a huge component in last night’s comeback was the approach:
The numbers show in the second half, the Celtics attempted 18 3-pointers of their 42 attempts but were more selective. They didn’t settle for contested looks, instead opting for open looks of the flow of the offense. Only a Terry Rozier pull-up 3-pointer off a fastbreak — which missed — was the lone questionable 3-point attempt of the half.
“We just kind of hit singles on our way back and that was a good thing to do on the road against a good team,” Stevens said. “I didn’t think our offense, attention to detail, or physicality was enough in the first half, and it turned up with 20 minutes to go. We got some loose balls. We got some runouts, got down the floor, made some shots, felt better about ourselves, and gave ourselves a chance.”
Sometimes it feels like singles aren’t permitted in today’s NBA. Nineteen-point comeback wins are fun no matter how they happen, but I really enjoyed the offense.
Related: NBC – Kyrie leadership on display again
On Page 2, Yabu was exhausted.
“I thought Guerschon’s play was a big reason why we won the game,” Stevens said, closing an answer about the defense down the stretch.
Asked to elaborate on Yabusele, Stevens continued: “Energy, physicality, he blocked a couple of shots, he got rebounds in traffic, the big three that he it was great. But it’s all the other little things that we needed, so I thought he was a big reason why we went in the right direction.”
The minutes represented a new high for Yabusele, who admitted he was exhausted by the time Horford replaced him with 7:40 left.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really, really tired,” Yabusele said. “I was really trying not to think about it. Just try to have fun over there, you know? I don’t play a lot of games, so when I got some minutes I’m not going to complain about being tired or anything else. And just try to do my best every game.”
Mass Live
I’m not Yabu’s biggest fan but he impressed me last night. This wasn’t about three-point dabs or bow and arrow celebrations. This was about fundamental plays – rotations, post defense, and boxing out.
Related: BSJ – Yabu shows his potential
The rest of the links
Globe – Kyrie talks about giving $240 to a homeless man
NBC – Old friends cheer Tatum in Memphis


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Recap: Celtics pull wings off Hornets and eat them to snap losing streak

IN A NUTSHELL
This game was as close to a true must-win as the Boston Celtics have had this season thus far, because four straight losses gets to be A Thing, and not just in the alarmist Boston sports media landscape. Playing a defensive-minded Charlotte Hornets team also served as a dress rehearsal for the true test against Philadelphia coming on Christmas Day.
After a closely fought duel in the first frame between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Boston began pouring on the punishment from both ends of the floor in the second and didn’t look back. The final winning score, 119-103, wasn’t remotely reflective of the beatdown they unleashed against the Hornets in a much-needed, well-executed team win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Kyrie started off on a breakneck kick, with seven of Boston’s nine unanswered points in the opening minutes en route to 17 in the quarter (and 25 for the game). But the primary reason for the Celtics’ success was—BRACE YOURSELF FOR THIS SHOCKING REVELATION—returning to lineup arrangements that fueled the 8-game win streak.
There now exists too much evidence to downplay the potency of the Irving/Smart/Tatum/Morris/Horford starting five, as well as the success Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have off the bench. (I’ve given the latter a hard time in some moments, but he’s accepted the benching without an iota of public complaint and continues to show assorted signs of resurgence, like a strong two-handed dunk in that second quarter.) Other points:

The Celtics forced Kemba Walker to work mostly alone, with Jeremy Lamb offering the only other meaningful offensive contributions. (Part of that is Charlotte’s clunky roster, but Kemba aside, they played massively out of whack by any standard.)
That 2nd quarter was the Cs’ highest-scoring frame of the season, with 39 points. At times, the lead eclipsed 30 points.
Team rebounding looked more like what it should be, a mercy after two brutal humiliations and the creator of many second-chance field goals in this game.
Horford looks like his old self and proved once again how, in many ways, he is the stabilizing spine of this Celtics team.
But Marcus Morris is currently one of this team’s most consistent two-way players, and deserves plenty of credit for bringing his own brand of muscle to the starting lineup.
Jayson Tatum continues his low-key murder streak with another 17-point performance.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Just small points:

Hayward’s shooting is still incredibly inconsistent.
Brown got in unfortunate early foul trouble that limited his playability and shot poorly, in the precise inverse of his Milwaukee performance.
Also, his attempt at a lob to the Timelord…did not go well. (Couldn’t find video, or this’d be in the section below.)

WHAT THE HELL
Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
The aforementioned Hayward jam:
Kyrie gunning:
Uncle Al and Kyrie working their magic:
For posterity, just felt like I couldn’t not include this beautiful image:

Box score


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Recap: Bucks clobber offensively challenged Celtics

IN A NUTSHELL
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks developed a mini-rivalry during the 2017-18 season, mostly in the playoffs, so this was an intensely physical and borderline chippy game.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work in the Celtics’ favor. Despite fiery opening minutes, strong intermittent rallies and a spirited (and team-high; 21 points) scoring performance by Jaylen Brown, Milwaukee established a lead about a third of the way through Q1 and never looked back, ending up with a 120-107 victory and serving Boston their third loss in a row.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jaylen Brown was absolutely outstanding in the second half; it may have been his best sustained performance this season.
Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great shooting night but made up for it with multiple drives resulting in trips to the line.
Boston got lucky on some very questionable goaltending calls against Giannis. If I were a Bucks fan those would have me livid regardless of score or final result. I am not, so they don’t.
Semi Ojeleye did fairly well in his first spot start, even if his offense wasn’t sustainable.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Giannis got to the line approximately, like, 69,420 times or so, and made 75 percent of those shots.
Offense was not always easy to come by for the Celtics in this one. To say the least. That said, most of this was shots simply not falling; the plays and passing and shots were not particularly bad.
Unless you were Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving. The whiteboy’s first start since his demotion to sixth/seventh man did not go well at all, and Kyrie couldn’t get into rhythm.
Defensively…just…woof. The murderous out-rebounding that was shocking but seemingly aberrant in the Phoenix game two nights ago happened yet again. This team needs Al Horford back.
Not having an answer for Antetokounmpo is one thing. Nobody does, really. The key to beating the Bucks lies in letting Giannis cook and neutering everyone else, as the Celtics did during every home game of the 2018 playoffs. Not having an answer for Khris Middleton is even acceptable, but no answer for Thon Maker’s three-point shooting isn’t.
Lacking a solution to keep Tony farking Snell from being wide open to score in double figures is absolutely horrific.

WHAT THE HELL/ASSORTED WEIRDNESS

I hate Tony Snell.
I do, however, appreciate how Milwaukee has abandoned its puzzling attachment to all white centers ever, which was a constant aspect of that roster for like the past four years. They also realized how big a mistake it was to pay Matthew Dellavedova, albeit three seasons too late.
Yabu’s purple hair was better than the platinum blond.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
JAYLEN SMASH GREECE WORSE THAN FISCAL INEPTITUDE:

JAYLEN BROWN WITH THE STARE DOWN (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/XpYJsDQ04X
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 22, 2018

Kyrie and Hayward looking as good as they always should:

That pass by Kyrie pic.twitter.com/VlG0md9W3A
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 22, 2018

Box score


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Recap: Celtics win streak ends with a dying screech against Pistons

IN A NUTSHELL
The Celtics’ recent win streak exists in part because of schedule strength. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. So when the Detroit Pistons came out looking tougher and much more assured than most teams have of late against Boston, you can’t be particularly surprised, especially when you add the factor of this being the second night of a back-to-back. Honestly, it would’ve been understandable—albeit still a bummer—if this had been treated as a scheduled loss of sorts.
It didn’t look like a scheduled loss in the first half, but turned into one about halfway through the third quarter. The Pistons were hungry in the wake of a grueling six-game losing streak, and decided to end it by sending the Celtics home with their first loss in 9 games, 113-104.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

I’d call the whole first half a good thing for Boston, even though it ended with a 57-56 Detroit lead. They punched back with a mini-run whenever Detroit threw a haymaker and were never behind by more than 7 points.
Kyrie Irving (26-8-4 with 3 steals) played well for the entire game until the result was a foregone conclusion, as did Jayson Tatum.
Aron Baynes did as much to stop Andre Drummond as possible, looking better than he did last night by a considerable margin.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Know how I said they were never down by any large margin in the first half? Not so at all in the second. Detroit had a 16-point lead at one point, and turned up the intensity to a degree the tired Celtics couldn’t match.

The Pistons offense is now more contingent on Griffin than any other player, now that he’s been fully integrated into the flow of things for Detroit. If a squad can’t shut him down or shut everyone else down around him, they’re in trouble.
Boston didn’t defend Griffin well at all, and let him get to the line practically at will during the second half. The Cs also let Detroit role players like Reggie Bullock score at an embarrassing rate.
Drummond, as per usual, was a massive problem on the boards for the Celtics.
The reserves had a bad night, including Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Rob Williams.
Marcus Smart had an excellent night offensively and struggled on the other end, albeit while consistently trying; he tried so hard he got into early foul trouble.

WHAT THE HELL

Blake Griffin’s beard grosses me out for some reason. It looks like the kind of beard that’s intended to disguise a grotesque chin. Did his chin mutate into a strange being? WHAT IS HE HIDING? We have a right to know…
Luke Kennard’s existence continues to baffle me.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
Kyrie making the desperation circus shot look easy:

Got the steal and the points! pic.twitter.com/sbYANNDeoY
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Tatum takes the entire Pistons defense by surprise with a smash off the Kyrie fastbreak and assist:

Tatum with the FLUSH pic.twitter.com/BmHlOvdkYH
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Box score


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Your Morning Dump… Where the Celtics prove it’s better to win than to lose

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.

Aron Baynes: “We’ve still got a lot of room for improvement, but it’s better to learn when you win than it is to learn when you lose.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

The Celtics desperately needed to make a statement; not to the Hawks but to themselves. They have been a sputtering bunch for weeks and getting off to a strong beginning to one of the worst teams in the NBA, was exactly what they did in scoring 45 points which ranks among the highest scoring first quarters in Celtics history. That kind of early dominance set the tone for the rest of the game which was never really much in doubt afterward.
NBC Sports Boston: Balanced, steady Celtics attack keeps Hawks grounded
Sure, one might question how much meaning can be applied to a triumph over the now 3-16 Atlantans, who got just five points from prized rookie Trae Young. But, hey, the Celts had just had their lunch eaten by a Knicks outfit that arrived at the Garden with a 4-14 record.
In other words, they weren’t about to look an easy win in the mouth.
It was, for all intents and purposes, a first round knockout.
The Celtics had a 7-5 lead three minutes in. Then they bid the Hawks adieu.
With Kyrie Irving being aggressive from the get-go, the C’s pulled away quickly. It took fewer than nine minutes to lead by 20, and by the end of the opening period they had a 45-23 advantage.
It was easily their highest first quarter of the season (34 at Denver) and best period overall (40 twice — in the second quarter at Oklahoma City and the fourth on Wednesday against the Knicks when New York had 33 to keep their edge secure).
Herald: Celtics finally get back in black by routing Hawks
Boston was indeed in control all the way last night. In a reversal of Wednesday’s Knicks game, Boston led by as many as 29 and never trailed at any time. Their first quarter was amazing: 16 of 25 shooting, including a scorching 8 of 12 on threes. They had 12 assists in the period, too, and served notice that they weren’t going to underachieve again.
The Celtics finished the game making 42 of 91 shots for 46.2%, their fifth-best shooting performance of the season, and much better than their overall average of 43.5%. Stop me if you’ve heard this, but advanced analytics have consistently determined that it’s easier to win when your shots go down.
Not that they were sharp for the full 48. In the second quarter, they inexplicably hit just 4 of 18 from the field and allowed Atlanta to crawl within 16 at halftime. But that’s as close as the Hawks got all night.
So it was not a great win, but it was a comfortable win, which put the Cs back above .500 at 10-9. Coincidentally, that’s the same record as New Orleans, which lost last night to the Knicks, which might make you feel a tiny bit better about last Wednesday.
As a bonus to the one-sided contest, every Celtic got playing time and also scored. Best of all, the Timelord played nine minutes and had two dunks in two tries, which brought his perfect season totals to four shots, four baskets, four dunks, and one awesome tweet about all of that.

100% of Robert Williams' FGs this season have been dunks pic.twitter.com/81VKaHBSFV
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) November 24, 2018

With another game tonight at Dallas, the Cs will be tested again. The effort that they put forth in Atlanta will only matter if they continue it.
But the Celtics did not cure any of their biggest problems on Friday night. Their consistency woes can only truly be solved with sustained multi-game effort. They still have not given a full 48-minute performance but they can at least build off Friday’s showing when they visit Dallas on Saturday.
“Did what we were supposed to do,” Irving told reporters in Atlanta after finishing with 13 points. “Start of a business trip.”
But how can Boston build off this?
“Just not being complacent, not being satisfied,” added Irving.
NBC Sports Boston: Celtics start ‘business trip’ with much-needed win
Related –
MassLive: Boston Celtics roll Atlanta Hawks 114-96: Gordon Hayward improves, issues at the rim, plus 10 things we learned
NBC Sports Boston: Here’s what happened in the Celtics’ 114-96 win over the Hawks  |  Celtics erupt for historic 45-point first quarter against Hawks
NESN: Celtics Notes: Strong Start For Boston Helps Snap Three-Game Skid Vs. Hawks
On Page 2: Never mind
Two non-stories “broke” yesterday.
A source with intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the NBA told Get More Sports that Davis is considering five teams in the near and distant future: The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.
The determining factor in the short term will be the level of success the Pelicans do or do not have during the first half of the upcoming 2018-19 season. If they are middle-of-the-pack or worse in the competitive Western Conference, it is more likely than not that Davis will be moved before the trading deadline.
[…]
_ BOSTON CELTICS (Even money):  Ainge has more talent on the roster right now than he knows what to do with, and there is a glut of young talent that could be moved. Because of salary cap rules, one big money player would have to be included, and that would likely necessitate putting Marcus Smart’s $11 million (this season) deal into a deal if Al Horford ($29M) and Gordon Hayward ($20M) were not included. Trade candidates would likely include Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, and Ainge is sitting on four first-round picks in the 2019 draft: Boston’s own, Sacramento’s (Top 1 protected), Memphis’ (protected 1-8 in ’19; 1-6 in ’20 and unprotected in ’21) and the Clippers (protected Top 14 in ’19 and ’20).
Get More Sports.com: Sheridan: Anthony Davis to Lakers a big possibility, but Celtics in the mix, too
This report is flawed because it fails to consider what Dangercart, Celtics Twitter’s resident salary cap expert, explained weeks ago:

No, it's against the rules to have Kyrie on his current contract and add Davis via trade because they both signed Rose Rule eligible extensions
— Ryan Bernardoni (@dangercart) October 31, 2018

And as Chris Forsberg explained on last night’s pregame show, the only way the Celts could deal for Davis before the summer is if they sent Kyrie to New Orleans (watch video).
That was one report, then there was this…

After marveling at Vince Carter's longevity this morning, Kyrie Irving was asked if he could envision himself playing that long.
"No, no," he said. "Once I’m done with this, hopefully in my early-to-mid 30s, I’m done with this."
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 23, 2018

Keep in mind, Kyrie entered the league at age 19, and this is his eighth season. If he plays until age 34, that would be another eight seasons. So let’s not worry about it yet.
Related – Herald: Kyrie Irving cuts short talk of long career  |  ESPN: Celtics guard Kyrie Irving hoping for early-to-mid-30s retirement
And, finally… Three views of sorcery
How?

KYRIE DIFFERENT pic.twitter.com/lMfexbFJmO
— Blue Devil World (@BlueDevilWorld) November 23, 2018

Ohh…

who did it better @KyrieIrving or @michaeljackson pic.twitter.com/BfK9d9s3JQ
— Bd (@Billyd2411) November 23, 2018

Ahh…

this dude is not human pic.twitter.com/E3nKTlqq0l
— xanny ainge (@Mr_546) November 23, 2018


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Recap: Celtics take chainsaw through Hawks, earn much-needed win

IN A NUTSHELL:
The Boston Celtics needed a win badly—for a morale boost, I’m sure, but Kyrie “Fuck Thanksgiving” Irving also wanted to shut the drama-thirsty media up. Unsurprisingly, the Boston pack* has begun salivating, what with our heroes at a PALTRY 9-9 record! My LORD! It’s almost like there have been 18 games this season and 64 of them remain!!!
But seriously: The Cs spent most of this game well in control, and even their few moments of laziness didn’t undo their progress as it had in previous instances. Things were clicking from the starters to the bench, particularly Kyrie, Jayson Tatum, and Aron Baynes, whose 16 points led all Boston scorers in a 114-96 win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
It sure does help to be playing the worst-ranked defense in the NBA when you need a win. (This is by opponent points allowed per game, according to Basketball Reference; Atlanta is 25th in defensive rating.) But the Boston offense also flowed effortlessly and led to considerable more wide-open shots, ones reasonably worth taking, in the first half than the 20 they made.
After some slacking in the second quarter (see below), the third frame was another bloodbath, Celtic players tearing through Hawks like Leatherface and some unlucky teenagers. Atlanta is a young team, but even their vets like Dewayne Dedmon weren’t much help. Bird blood everywhere…for most of the quarter. Some sloppiness at Q3’s end (again, see below). But after a quick series of mini-runs early in the 4th, the Celtics established enough of a cushion to leave everything in the hands of the bench and seal the W.
On a more granular level—

Taking two of the Hawks best players—Trae Young and Taurean Prince—out of the equation during the first half was huge; they got 2 and 0 points, respectively. Young’s biggest threat isn’t his scoring, of course, but he only made 2 assists as well.
With Horford out, Aron Baynes served as roll man on P&Rs initiated by Kyrie and acquitted himself quite well, while remaining an ironclad defensive presence and a meaningful threat from deep. (Before Baynes was a Celtic, I thought he was a solid, kinda underrated bench big for the Spurs and Pistons, but I didn’t ever envision typing a sentence including the phrases “Aron Baynes” and “meaningful threat from deep.”)
Gordon Hayward continued his run of considerable effectiveness as the point wing/microwave scorer for the bench dudes. His other talents ensure he’s more valuable overall than the average microwave scorer.
MOAR *clap* TIMELORD *clap* BLOCKS *clap* PLZ. Rob Williams is still raw in a lot of ways, but almost all of his (limited) minutes have been electric. This is great to see for a rookie whose work ethic was questioned, perhaps unfairly, after the draft: He’s clearly making the most of the tick he’s given.

WHAT WENT WRONG:

After the slaughterhouse 45-point first quarter, some regression was only natural. Letting the Hawks off the hook a few times is natural. Letting them outscore you in a quarter (22-16) isn’t, and I say that as someone who thinks Atlanta is much friskier than their abysmal current record indicates. When you’re in a funk, as Boston has been in recent games, you simply don’t get to take quarters off. Four made field goals in,,,,,is bad.
The lackadaisical approach returned near the end of Q3, but not as badly as in the previous quarter. Turnovers were the main devil here—

When push comes to shove, though, there are few if any individual major screw-ups to cite here. And for whatever mistakes they did make, the Cs still spent most of this game up 20-plus.
WHAT THE HELL:
Couple of funny things—

Absurd mechanical mishaps are on my personal list of idiosyncratic NBA things, and the shot-clock wankery early in the first quarter made me chuckle. IS IT 14? 24? 5?
Not sure how I feel about SMARF with the dreads. I’d gotten used to the nappy, blond-streaked hightop fade.
Theis’s new hair, meanwhile, remains fucking horrible.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS (These are all dunks. I’ll just say it in advance.)
ROZIER SMASH:

Smart goes behind the back to Rozier for the JAM! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/2LYTLFJjPq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

TATUM SMASH:

Tatum with the MONSTER putback! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/SBxlRJAbO3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

TIMELORD SMASH!!!!!

#SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/Lojpfzoveq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

Box score
*Rhymes with the word “pee” plus the name of an early Nelly hit, though I’m sure Danshaughnessyfromendlessbitching has also said some dumb things.


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Your Morning Dump… Where the Nuggets are dominating with defense?

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Here are some words I never thought would be written on Denver Stiffs: the Nuggets are a defensive team. Nine games in and Denver ranks third in the league in defensive rating and has already held opponents to under 100 points five times this year. Though they are far from perfect on the defensive end of the floor, the legitimacy of the sample size is growing day by day. Boston, however, is notorious for being a top-notch defensive team and currently ranks first in that category.
Fortunately for Denver, the Celtics are somehow a bottom five team offensively so far this season. This can’t be the game where Gordon Hayward or Jayson Tatum is allowed to go off, and Kyrie Irving will need to be contained. Denver has managed to succeed at holding off opposing stars for the most part this season. Let’s see if that trend continues.
Will the ball finally pop tonight? It’s almost ironic that Denver’s best start to a season is coming on the backs of the defense when the team is pretty much built to be an offensive juggernaut. Still, we’ve only seen glimpses of the magic that the Nuggets can bring. Nikola Jokic looked like an MVP the first week of the season, and though he is still the focal point for the team he has only been quietly filling up the stat sheet. Jamal Murray is still in his annual-start-the-season-slow mini-slump and is due for a breakout game. Denver is 28th in the league in three-point percentage.
Denver Stiffs
The Celtics have a date with the 8-1 Nuggets in Denver tonight (9pm tip-off). For those who haven’t noticed, Denver is playing really well. Their signature win is Golden State, and they’ve beaten a few good teams like the Clippers, New Orleans (w/o AD), and Utah.
These aren’t the 80s Nuggets. Dan Issel, Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English aren’t running up 140 points. Nope. Despite having talents like Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris, the Nuggets are bringing the D.
Denver has 3 guys in the top 10 defensive rating: Mason Plumlee, Jokic and Paul Milsap. (Yup, Plumlee). Not exactly the recipe for a Celtics team struggling to find its offense.
The Nuggets are 2.5 point favorites with a 57% win probability. This one might be a bloodbath but I still like the Celtics chances coming off a stinging loss to Indiana.
And no, Isaiah Thomas hasn’t seen the court yet for Denver.
On Page 2, the Celtics have a target on them and know it.
Irving was bemused by Pacers fans’ reactions to the win.
“Everywhere we go, it’s like they won a championship game against us,” he said. “The way their fans were celebrating, everybody was celebrating, that’s something I’ve gotten used to over the course of my career, playing teams where it doesn’t matter if they’re on a back-to-back, if they’ve had days of rest.
“They’re going to come at us, as they should. We’ll be ready. We’ll be ready to go right back at them. So just having those moments where we have a few possessions where we’re not as engaged can affect us. But it’ll translate as we go forward.”
Herald
This little jab by Kyrie Irving kinda encapsulates the team’s big picture viewpoint early in the season.
That’s all fine and good, just make sure this team doesn’t morph into the 2010 Celtics.
The rest of the links:
There’s nothing new since yesterday. With the beat on Mountain Time, I’m guessing they’re sleeping in.


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Your Morning Dumps… Where Tommy Heinsohn gets the team in shape

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think he’s maybe a little out of shape,” Heinsohn stated, while recognizing that Irving was coming off of offseason knee surgery. “To me, it looks like he’s a little overweight. And to me — his timing, his quickness — he’s maybe an instant slower than he’s been.”
Rather than viewing Heinsohn’s criticism in a negative light, Irving used it as motivation.
“I was on the bike the next morning,” Irving claimed. “I was on the Versaclimb, I was doing everything possible to make sure I prepared my body for what’s to come the rest of the season.”

Irving needed some form of encouragement, and Heinsohn’s comments, which he stumbled upon last week, came at just the right time.
“It’s always great when someone challenges you like that, especially with the respect-level that I have for past Celtics Legends,” said Irving. “And for him to really kind of pinpoint, as me being one of the leaders on this team, a main [focal] point of this team, I had to be in better shape as well as challenge myself on both ends of the floor. I think he made it very clear to me.
NBA.com
Kyrie Irving then went on to clarify that giving short, simple, concise answers would literally kill him (Ok, not really).
It was the perfect storm of circumstances that got Kyrie back to looking like his normal self. With Heinsohn’s comments as a wake-up call, he ditched the Hendrix look, hit the treadmill, and took previously 4-0 Detroit Pistons to school. Irving’s 30 points (10-16 shooting), five assists, and five rebounds probably surprised many of us, as he posted just three points (1-5 shooting) to go with seven rebounds and five assists against the same Pistons team on Saturday. Playing yesterday’s game in Boston might have helped him get comfortable, but the most logical conclusion could be tied to the most significant change of all: shaving the afro. With great success requires sacrifice, or so they say. RIP Shimmy Hendrix.
(Apparently Jayson Tatum disagrees with me)

Jayson Tatum doesn't want Kyrie's fro to get a bad name after his season-high 31 points: "I told him, I said, 'If you have a good game tonight, don't blame it on the fro.' I told him I didn't want to hear nothing about your haircut."
— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) October 31, 2018

I find it strange that it was Tommy’s comments that inspired Kyrie to work a little harder to get in shape, as if he wasn’t already tracking his progress since coming back from his injury. We hear so much about diet, body fat percentage, and weird workout equipment these days, I figured that even if an athlete wasn’t totally on top of their conditioning, that a trainer would have notes on a clipboard somewhere to help them along. Then again, reading too much into a Kyrie Irving quote is asking for trouble – it’s nearly impossible to parse through it and separate the most important few words from the rest. Reading his quotes is like a scavenger hunt for philosophy majors.
On page 2, Aron Baynes is in one piece

Aron Baynes made his return Tuesday night against the Pistons, and as Brad Stevens said, his presence was immediately felt. pic.twitter.com/NPkRWvaXSu
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 31, 2018

Aron Baynes said he didn’t even feel his hamstring tonight. Banged his knee during the first half, but enjoyed it because it “gave me something to think about other than my hammy.” He’s a sick human.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) October 31, 2018

We were starting to get ‘Hospital Celtics’ vibes from early injuries to Daniel Theis and Baynes early in the year, but it looks like Baynes is in better shape than expected. And from now on, I’m calling banging knees to cover up the pain of another ailment “The Australian Recovery Program”. It’s like a really masochistic spin on drinking to cover up a hangover.
Seeing guys like Baynes and Al Horford hold their own against the Pistons is about as good as Kyrie torching their guards, if you ask me. Griffin was looking unstoppable in Detroit’s first games (dropped 50 on Philadelphia, scored 31 in two games vs Boston), and while Andre Drummond’s stock may have wavered in the past couple years, he’s still Andre Drummond: enormous and deceptively quick for somebody with his build. (Drummond’s only game this year without a double-double was Saturday vs Boston)
I’m putting ‘turning Aron Baynes into a modern NBA center’ onto the mantles of Brad Stevens’ greatest accomplishments, right next to Jordan Crawford’s Player of the Week award. I’ve seen Karl-Anthony Towns and Jonas Valanciunas get played straight off the court in playoff games, and yet Baynes has carved a niche for himself to always be relevant while he’s in. He’s secretly one of the best post defenders in basketball (seriously), and adding a three-point shot is icing on the cake. In a potential playoff series against Detroit, I’d take Baynes’ defense over nearly anybody else’s, which is why I can’t believe nobody has outbid the Celtics for him two years in a row.
The rest of the links
ESPN: Kyrie Irving shows off new haircut, then show up big against Pistons
Boston Globe: Kyrie Irving, Tommy Heinsohn lead Celtics to win (yes, you read that right)
Boston Herald: Kyrie Irving finds form as Celtics take down Pistons
CBS Sports: Gordon Hayward still dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired ankle


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#CELTKICKS: Kyrie honors his dad with BU kicks

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving isn’t the first Irving to be a basketball star in Boston. His father Drederick was one of Boston University’s best players ever, leading them to the 1988 NCAA Tournament and graduating as their #1 All Time leading scorer (a record since broken twice). Drederick, who wore #11 as a Terrier, still holds three of the top 10 scoring seasons in BU history.

BU’s colors are red and white. Last night against the Pistons, Kyrie scored 31 points in red & white Kyrie 4 “BU” sneakers, emblazoned with his father’s #11 in his father’s team colors.
Pretty cool.
Shout out to KWAPT for the info.
© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports


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Your Morning Dump… Where Weird Celtics Twitter and Timelord are a perfect match

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“Always, always,” Williams said, smiling on Thursday. “Instead of calling me ‘Robert,’ they call me ‘Time Lord.’ But I don’t know where that (expletive) came from.”
Williams probably isn’t the only one, so here’s the origin story.
For many NBA fans, part of the fun is following along on Twitter, where the conversation twists and turns in amusing directions as the games unfold. Over the last year, a section of Celtics fans on Twitter formed a popular subgenre: Weird Celtics Twitter, which posts absurdist memes and jokes. Marcus Smart is “Smarf,” a warrior king. Semi Ojeleye’s muscular frame is “thick and jacked,” and lifting weights is going to the “Ojeleye Factory.”
At the center of Weird Celtics Twitter is Ryan Hebert, whose Twitter account @HebertofRiffs has gained a considerable amount of notoriety over the last few years. He was one of the people who came up with “Time Lord.”
[…]
“Basically, Timelord boiled down to the prediction of drafting him in 2017 and also defending him against uptight people who were earnestly acting like they’ve never been late to work in their lives,” Hebert said. “Weird Celtics Twitter is a bizarre place, but we genuinely love the characters and personalities and people on the team, and we are online so much that we have to do absurd things to show people how stupid it is to say a mega-athlete with a savant-like feel for timing, blocks and passing is a bust because they missed a flight. We all love Robert and are pulling for him as a pro and as a person and this is our bizarre way of going about it.”
MassLive: Boston Celtics’ Robert Williams has seen ‘Time Lord’ nickname, but ‘I don’t know where that (expletive) came from’
This is great. Weird Celtics Twitter is so entertaining that every day it becomes more a part of the Boston basketball culture. We know that @Max_Lederman of NBC Sports Boston already features WCT memes in a regular segment on postgame shows. This year there has also been news coverage of combat muscles, the Ojeleye Factory and the mysterious and mystical Janos.
Now this tale – the Timelord being virtually willed onto the Celtics by the Riffsman – really tops everything. The next time the Celts are on TNT or ESPN, the national talking heads should skip hyping how Kobe tutored Jayson, and instead run a feature on Weird Celtics Twitter.
The MassLive story above tells the whole Timelord saga, but if you want the Riffsman’s complete explanation in his own words, follow the link in this tweet.

The Riffsman made a guest appearance on my site today to discuss how Robert Williams became the T I M E L O R D https://t.co/DQx8i9lchi
— Nathan Eovaldi Fan Account (@DanielfromSport) October 26, 2018

(If you’re not on Twitter, use this link: THE TIMELORD PROPHECY)
Before we leave the Timelord, note that circumstances might get interesting for him tonight in Detroit:

Aron Baynes (R hamstring strain) and Daniel Theis (L foot sprain) are questionable for tomorrow’s game in Detroit. The C’s need at least one of those guys against DET’s frontcourt. If both are out, Robert Williams is in the mix for the first significant playing time of his career
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) October 26, 2018

On Page 2: Irving and Hayward are works in progress
It’s only been five games for Kyrie Irving and four for Gordon Hayward, but we’re starting to get a sense of how they feel coming back from their major injuries. The eye test tells us that Kyrie is a bit further along than Gordon, and these two articles published yesterday support that.
Both Kyrie Irving and Paul George broke for the ball at almost the same instant. Jayson Tatum’s pull-up jumper with little more than a minute to play Thursday night had shot hard off the back iron and sailed over the four Oklahoma City Thunder players in the painted area. Now, as the ball bounced free at the elbow, Irving and George found themselves in a footrace for the rebound.
Accelerating from in front of the Boston bench, Irving was able to lunge in front of George with his left hand and somehow gain control of the ball, all while George’s swipe attempt left him punching at air and then clapping his hands in exasperation.
It was the sort of hustle play these Celtics so often made last season. The gritty plays that set this team apart in their playoff run. And it was exactly the sort of effort that this team has been lacking early this season.
[…]
Irving finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes. More telling, four of those five rebounds came over the final four minutes. And each was spectacular in their own way. On one, Irving outleaped Thunder 7-footer Stevens Adams to tip out a rebound to Horford. Later, he went over the top of Adams again then wrestled the ball away from Jerami Grant.
The common thread: Effort. Irving outworked his opponents to get those rebounds. And in a joy-filled-and-relieved Celtics locker room, Irving seemed to recognize how everyone on the roster needs to step outside their comfort zone a bit for this team to thrive.
NBC Sports Boston: Kyrie Irving’s hustle play a sign of what Celtics had been lacking
Yes, Kyrie has been showing signs that he’ll be back to normal sooner than later. After a horrible opening night, where he shot just 2-14, he’s been at 15 points or more in four straight games. In the last two (vs. Orlando and OKC), he made a combined 16-32. Kyrie is also averaging 5.6 assists, a hair above his career average.
In some advanced numbers, though, Kyrie’s picture isn’t pretty.
Irving still has a long ways to go to change his reputation as an often-disinterested defender. Through five games, the Celtics own a team-worst defensive rating of 105.3 when Irving is on the court, a jarring number when you consider Boston’s team rating is 96.6 — a mark that leads the scoring-boom NBA by 4.4 points per 100 possessions. Boston’s defensive rating plummets to an impossibly low 69.9 during the 75 minutes that Irving has been off the court.
Meanwhile, the news on Hayward isn’t especially good.
On Thursday night, with 5 minutes and 11 seconds left in Boston’s matchup against the Thunder, the Celtics trailed, 89-85, and the stage was set for a dramatic finish. But Hayward would only be able to watch it.
He was summoned back to the bench, replaced by Marcus Morris, and he would stay there for the rest of Boston’s comeback victory.
Hayward, who missed all but five minutes of last season after suffering a catastrophic left ankle injury in the opening game, knew he would have his playing time restricted for a few weeks as he regained his rhythm. And when he returns to the locker room after games and the soreness in that surgically repaired ankle returns, he understands why the reins have not been removed yet.
But it is still not easy on him. He wants to play. He understands why there is pain in the ankle, but he is also sick of it. He would like to feel perfect again and remind everyone why he was an All-Star two seasons ago.
Globe: With ankle soreness lingering, Gordon Hayward is still trying to find his way
Hayward is struggling, that’s plain to see. About the only stat where he’s been effective is three-point shooting, where he’s 6-14 (40%). Everything else is a problem: he’s not moving fluidly, he’s suffering from recurring soreness that caused him to unexpectedly sit out a second-night of a back-to-back, and he remains under a minutes restriction. Gordon is also a liability at both ends of the court.
He is averaging 10 points and 5.8 rebounds while making 39.5 percent of his shots. During his 98 minutes, the Celtics have been outscored by an average of 9.7 points per 100 possessions, the worst net rating on the team. During his 142 minutes on the bench, the Celtics have outscored opponents by 12.0 points per 100 possessions.
Hayward knows all this, and it has been difficult to deal with.
But it is still not easy on him. He wants to play. He understands why there is pain in the ankle, but he is also sick of it. He would like to feel perfect again and remind everyone why he was an All-Star two seasons ago.
We all feel for the guy, but we’re realizing that getting the normal Hayward may take a while.
“I’m definitely trying to do that, finding joy in being able to play basketball again and being able to be out on the court again,” Hayward said. “That’s something I’m trying to do every day.”
And, finally… In case you missed it
Cool moment after the OKC game for one kid who already has his Halloween costume.

Uncle Drew kid got Kyrie’s shoes. pic.twitter.com/qnxz9je3YX
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) October 26, 2018

The Rest of the Links:
Yahoo: Unbeaten Pistons to measure themselves against Celtics
Herald: Celtics take cue from Red Sox


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