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The Read & React: the one where Kyrie went off

After scoring only 11 points in Orlando, Kyrie Irving put on a show to close out the Hawks with 35.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Cassoli: Kyrie Irving was fantastic in this one, but let's not bury the lead here. The big news from tonight's game was that Aron Baynes attempted a corner three. The big Australian has nice touch out to about 17 feet, but he's hesitant to let it fly from beyond the arc.

There's a good reason for that. Baynes was just 1-7 from deep coming into tonight's action (for his entire career), and his miss dropped him to a career three-point percentage of 12.5. The concept of Baynes functioning as a floor spacer certainly is an intriguing one though. He and Al Horford have combined to make for one of the stingiest defensive duos in all of basketball to start the year. If Baynes learns to knock down three point looks, even if exclusively from the corner, the tandem could become frighteningly effective on the offensive end as well.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Sy: There was a four-minute stretch in the second quarter where Denis Schroder showed why he’s been a thorn in the side of the Celtics for the last few seasons. He’s murder in the mid-range and a very good pick-and-roll point guard. Even though the Celtics sport the best defense in the league, they do have their Schroder-sized strategic holes.

Boston ICEs PnR’s with their big backpedaling to defend a guard’s drive or a big’s roll while the guard tries to stick on the dribbler’s hip. If the big backs up too far or the guard doesn’t take away air space, the dribbler can put up an uncontested shot at the free throw line. That’s where Schroder lives and he turned a four-point deficit into a six-point lead. He carved up Shane Larkin but not so much because of Larkin’s ability. It was more scheme-oriented.

Brad Stevens made an adjustment (with Marcus Smart chewing opposing players’ bubble gum) and the Celtics shut down that valve for most of the second half by going small and switching most of the picks.

A game like this shows the Celtics’ versatility and willingness to adjust on the fly. They could do that last year, but they didn’t exactly excel when they wanted to go big or small. Now, with veteran options like Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris and young upstarts in Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye, Stevens has an arsenal of defenders to go to.

Mike DePrisco: Scalabrine had a good quote in the third quarter about Kyrie Irving when he said, “He gives whatever the game needs.” I️ think that’s spot on when describing Irving’s contributions to the Celtics. On nights like this where Boston was struggling to score, Irving came up big and provided the necessary offense.

It’s the mark of a franchise player to supplement what your team is missing on any given night. Irving has the tools to do that for the Celtics at 25-years-old, which does wonders for a young, developing team like this one.

Simon Pollock: Wet.

The Celtics's prized rookie put up 21 tonight, going three for five from beyond the arc. As he settles into the night-to-night grind of the NBA, watching each of his performances has become a consistent thrill ride.

And as smooth as his stroke is from the corner (all three of his treys came from the left side), the real joy injection hits when watching him load up and launch back into defensive plays.

**Leans out of car window.** Hi yes, please super-size that order of Tatum.

Bill Sy: Kyrie caught fire to finish the game, but Marcus Smart had one of those Marcus Smart finishes that won’t show up in the box score.

After getting floored by Dewayne Dedmon, Smart proceeds to guard Schroder in closing time, boxes out Dedmon on the roll, and finds Jayson Tatum for what amounts to be the game-clinching 3. They awarded the Tommy Award to Irving and he deserved it for being the team’s closer last night, but Smart deserves some sort of ribbon (and some ice).

U mad, bro?: Soon after the Celtics win in Atlanta, LeBron James took to Instagram to vent his frustration:


A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

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