Another game without Kyrie Irving, but another win for the Boston Celtics. On the first game of a road trip, the C’s took down Portland 105-100.
With distractions flying around the Boston Celtics at all angles, the C’s are staying composed. Every injury is met with an adjustment and the team just keeps moving forward. Lineup changes are made and the Celtics keep executing.
Last night’s game was just another great example.
The Celtics trailed by 10 points on the road against a playoff team entering the fourth quarter. Yet, the entire team grouped together to rally. Timely shots and great defense allowed the Celtics to sneak out of Portland with a win.
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It’s these types of games that you can be proud of. As Al Horford said post game, “It’s one of my favorite wins of the season”. Or, Shane Larkin: “We’re really fighters, and that’s what made us so great”.
Whatever it is, keep it up.
Kyrie…how’s the knee?
As long as he is back for the playoffs, everything should be fine. The hope is that for these last few weeks of the regular season Irving will get a well deserved rest, and then return in beast mode.
However, even that is now in question. Kyrie could miss anywhere from the rest of the regular season to the entire playoffs. That is not good. The end result of that scenario could waste an entire season of hard work.
Final takeaway: injuries stink.
A mid-game adjustment
Early in the game, Marcus Morris went out with an ankle injury. It looked like the Boston Celtics were going to lose yet another one of their best players.
But Morris didn’t just return, he came back and dominated.
There must have been some magic in that old ace bandage they found. After getting his ankle taped, Morris finished with 30 points on 9-13 shooting and 5-6 from three.
His biggest shot of the night came with a minute left in the game and the Celtics up by 2 points.
When you make that shot, you know you are in a groove. A contested three after bobbling a pass with the shot clock winding down, Thank you, Marcus Morris. Excellent performance and shot.
Celtics cool down league’s hottest team
Coming into the game, the Trailblazers were on a roll. They had a 9-1 record in their last ten games. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were playing like they were the best backcourt in the league. Portland was dominant at home behind their strong fan base.
The Celtics didn’t care about any of that.
The Blazers scored just 100 points, the lowest total for them since February 5, one game after the Al Horford buzzer beater. Lillard and McCollum still combined for 52 points, but on 21 of 44 shooting and 5 for 15 from three. Boston got it done on both sides of the ball.
Are the Boston Celtics better without Kyrie?
But, the level at which they are playing without the star point guard has been incredible. Brad Stevens is almost certainly the best coach in the league at getting the most out of every player.
Abdel Nader and Shane Larkin, benchwarmers on any other team, are coming into games and contributing to wins. Marcus Morris is playing like an All-Star. Terry Rozier is putting up starting point guard numbers.
At this point, Brad Stevens deserves Coach of the Year. Dwane Casey of the Raptors will probably get it, but Stevens has done more. After Gordon Hayward went down, the Celtics played like he was never there. The 16-game winning streak to start the season was 80% due to the coaching staff.
Now, with injuries happening every day, the Celtics are staying afloat. Actually, they are more than just getting by. Boston is beating playoff teams while using up nearly every guy on the roster. Guerschon Yabusele is getting double-digit minutes and the Celtics are winning games in March!
Hopefully, Brad is here to stay for years to come.
The Boston Celtics visit Sacramento for an early game on Sunday. With Jaylen Brown supposedly coming back and the team playing like it is, the Kings should turn into the Queens.