Kyrie Irving vs. Chris Paul
Kyrie Irving is coming into this game on fire. Since the All-Star break, the Celtics point guard has been on an offensive surge. He has scored 30 or more points in three of his last five games, averaging 27 points on 54 percent shooting from the floor in those games.
He is focused and will have to be as locked in as he has been during this recent stretch. Going up against an All-Star caliber point guard like Chris Paul, that shouldn’t be a problem.
"“He’s very locked in,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday night’s victory over Charlotte. “He went into the break hurting a little bit for how we play it. I think that that was a shared – a feeling shared by all of us, on how our team performed on the last few days leading up to the break, and I thought that he hopefully had time to relax and kind of get away for a minute. But clearly when we came back on Wednesday, we were ready to go, and he was as locked in as anybody.”"
Before the All-Star break, Kyrie Irving challenged his team to respond in the wake of their slide heading into the break. The team has certainly done that on both ends of the court. Most impressively, the offense has been flowing at a high level, a level the team will have to maintain to match the Rockets.
In this game, Irving must outperform Chris Paul and match James Harden offensively. If he struggles, the Celtics will have a tough time staying in this game, unless someone else steps up big time on the offensive end.