Celtics defended their way to victory in Irving's absence

Despite playing without Kyrie Irving for all but two minutes of the past two games, the Celtics managed a pair of close home victories against the Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors.

Boston relied on it's elite defense to keep it's winning streak alive despite missing Irving and Al Horford (concussion protocol, missed Charlotte game), allowing just 87 points to Charlotte and 94 to Toronto.

The Celtics had a rough time initially adjusting to the loss of Irving, but quickly regained their footing and held Charlotte to just 30 second-half points to rally for their 11th-straight victory, despite being down by as many as 18 in the second quarter.

After the game, Jaylen Brown spoke on how he feels the Celtics represent the city of Boston with their characteristic toughness.

The Celtics were fortunate enough to get Horford back against Toronto, and outrebounded the Raptors 56-40. Horford scored 21 in the tight win and Boston held it's opponent under 100 points for the 11th time this season. Jaylen Brown was able to seal the deal with some stellar defense against DeMar DeRozan in the final seconds of the game.

Boston continues to boast the league's top rated defense, nearly four points ahead of the second-ranked Oklahoma City Thunder.

Irving is set to return tonight against the Brooklyn Nets.

Photo credit: Michael Dwyer, Associated Press
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