C’s enter November - Kyrie proves enlightened after shade thrown by Heinsohn

Before we get to the Celtics’ November slate, let’s take a moment to discuss Kyrie Irving’s stellar performance against the Pistons in Boston’s October swan song. As any Celtics’ fan who bleeds green knows, Irving has not exactly busted out of the blocks to start the 2018-2019 campaign. But an uncharacteristically critical comment by Celts’ legend and broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn may have been the spark that lit the fire to Kyrie’s 31-point effort in Boston’s 108-105 win over Detroit. Heinsohn is a homer’s homer only surpassed, perhaps, by the late, great Johnny Most and if you wear green then you can do no wrong in his eyes. Therefore, when Heinsohn lobbed this grenade at Irving after his three-point performance in Boston’s 109-89 win in Detroit (the first of their home-and-home series) it took many by surprise including Irving.

"[Irving] looks like he's five pounds overweight, but I haven't seen him on a scale."

BOOM goes the dynamite! In most venues that would hardly qualify as a scathing remark but in Boston, we’re different and we know the players, as well as the cast of ancillary characters and the roles they play in the whole Celtics’ dynamic. We should point out that a week earlier Heinsohn had gently and ever so tactfully mentioned Irving’s conditioning but it didn’t rise to the level of eyebrow-arching. In Tommy Land, this was an “Oh, no he didn’t” kind of declaration which seems much to do about nothing to fans in any other jurisdiction.

Apparently, Heinsohn’s shade made its way to Irving and he showed up in the Tuesday night rematch with Detroit sporting a new haircut, sans ‘afro, and a new attitude. Irving dropped 31, looked laser-focused, and reminiscent of the player we know he is but without the brooding that is commonplace in most professional athletes – think David Price of the Red Sox. Kyrie not only delivered the goods but what he said off the court spoke more than anything he did on it.

Irving replied in a postgame interview, "I caught wind of [his comments] probably like a week ago and it was bothering me, because it was the most honest thing anyone had said about the way I was playing," Irving said. "I literally had to try to match a level I had been playing at last year but also become better, so how you do that is, I had to really put an emphasis on my body and how I was taking care of my mind. [Heinsohn's comment] was one of the realest things I could have heard. As a competitor, if that doesn't itch inside you of wanting to be better, especially from a guy like Tommy Heinsohn, who, you can't do any wrong in his eyes if you're a Celtic. ... I appreciate that.

"It was the truth. I had to get in better shape, I had to become more dedicated to what I was doing. I was on the bike the next morning doing everything possible to prepare my body."

Irving has been hobbled by injuries over the past two seasons which has led to a pair of knee surgeries and getting back into game shape won’t get easier as he gets older. He will have his share of subpar games, as does any athlete, but his honest and humble response proves the mettle of the man and the fact that he understands, he just gets it, what’s expected when he dons the Celtics’ uniform.

We have a unique sports culture in Boston, rabid fans that have come to expect greatness, and genuflect at the altar of their unique abilities and achievements. But that love is not always reciprocated nor the respect for all of that adoration that is uniquely Boston. Kyrie Irving demonstrated through his actions and words that he is indeed a leader and a man who respects the Celtics’ tradition and the gravitas of legends who still linger and care about the NBA’s most storied franchise.

November to Remember

Thu, Nov 1, vs. Milwaukee
Sat, Nov 3, @Indiana
Mon, Nov 5, @Denver
Thu, Nov 8, @Phoenix
Fri, Nov 9, @Utah
Sun, Nov 11, @Portland
Wed, Nov 14, vs. Chicago
Fri, Nov 16, vs Toronto
Sat, Nov 17, vs. Utah
Mon, Nov 19, @Charlotte
Wed, Nov 21, vs. New York
Fri, Nov 23, @Atlanta
Sat, Nov 24, @Dallas
Mon, Nov 26, @New Orleans
Fri, Nov 30, vs. Cleveland

The Celtics will embark on a November schedule against teams whose combined record is 56-53 and there will be more than a few key matchups that will provide an early-season litmus test as to just how the Green compares to some of the stronger teams in the league.

On Thursday night November 1st the C’s welcome the Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks to Boston. Oftentimes when we’re curious as to what the public perception is on a big game like this and to that end we click over to Sportsbook Review, a site dedicated to all things sports betting, not the least of which is featuring all the latest NBA odds from all the best online sportsbooks. In addition, SBR even has information about how to bet on sports for those unfamiliar with putting your money where your mouth is. In the C’s clash against Milwaukee, the early line is Boston -2 but that number could rise or fall depending on where the money is being wagered. As you may recall, the Celtics survived a grueling seven-game first-round playoff series against the Bucks last season and this could be a preview of another postseason clash several months from now.

There are other teams that pose a threat this month and those include the Nuggets, Trail Blazers, and of course a mid-month showdown with the Toronto Raptors. But don’t just watch the game, get invested in the game, with a wager at some of the best online sportsbooks that can all be found at Sportsbook Review.