Under Kyrie Irving, Celtics are waking up, winning & solidifying playoff lineups
It is not only the three road wins in a row that have me excited. With the post-season in sight, the Celtics crew is starting to come together, have fun, play the right way, win games and solidify their projected playoff lineups. They are peaking at the right time. What the Hell happened on that long plane ride out west?
Kyrie was once again the leader on the court in Boston's convincing 120-107 win over the Lakers last night. He totaled 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. But here comes the shocker! Jayson Tatum (5) and Marcus Morris (4) with nine combined assists? Where did that come from?
We expect that from Al Horford (four assists) and Marcus Smart (five assists), but rarely from Jayson and Morris. Irving's on-court leadership has been quite solid, but his off-court leadership came with questions. Terry Rozier had some views on Kyrie, his key role with the Celtics and what may have taken place on that 7-hour plane ride (per NBC Sports' Chris Forsberg):
"Basically, it was time for us to wake up, and we know this is an important trip for us to finish out the rest of the season, so I guess Brad and Ky talked,” Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston during his weekly interview for Celtics Post-Up. "Ky's our leader and when he's in a great mood and he's feeling good, we're hard to beat and it's contagious. It rubs off on everybody else. Sometimes when he's not like that, it can get everybody uptight. So the way he's been acting has been great, and it's been good for us.”
"It was time for us to wake up" is what T-Ro had to say, and that is what Semi Ojeleye yelled at his teammates with an obscenity attached a short while back. He must get that from Kyrie, whose obscenities have aroused the troops on occasion.
“Wake the fuck up!”
My story on how Semi Ojeleye, seeing his team’s season “wasting away,” tried to light a fire under the struggling Celtics: https://t.co/wkVYOyXRBd
Brad Stevens still sticks with a starting-5 of Tatum, Morris, Horford, Smart and Irving. Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes, Terry and Gordon Hayward form the core of the bench. The nine players accounted for 118 of Boston's 120 points - 41 of 43 boards - and 31 of 32 assists. Barring injuries, it looks like this will be the main cadre that Brad will employ in the post-season.
So right now, things are looking very good. Hayward (15 points on 6-of-8 last night) has been solid. Smart is hitting his shots (16 points on 6-of-8). Tatum and Morris are passing the ball - at least last night. Kyrie is coming around as team leader. And the guys are playing the right way and winning games. They are peaking and on a roll. Great to see.
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Photo via Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images