Kyrie Irving saved Christmas. He told his teammates that his family was in town and “I’m acting up.” Boy did he deliver.
Marcus Morris has seen this movie before and he knew it would have a happy ending. (via ESPN)
“I’m about used to it now,” Celtics forward Marcus Morris said. “When he first came, it was crazy. But some of the s--- don’t even surprise me no more with how often he does it.
”I knew [it would go in]. I’ve seen it already. I’ve seen it a lot of times. ... It’s like a replay.”
The Celtics needed him to act up too. As Tom Westerholm points out:
Without Irving, Boston struggled. During a stretch in the third quarter without Horford, Boston’s defense couldn’t handle Joel Embiid. Then, when Irving went to the bench, the offense couldn’t find a basket. Irving came back into the game with Boston trailing by seven in the fourth.
The difference was palpable. Irving promptly converted a difficult layup and sparked a 5-0 run to close the gap. His jumper sent the game to overtime. Then, after Boston fell behind by five in overtime, Irving led the comeback, helped the Celtics take the lead, then buried a pair of vicious 3-pointers to close the door on Philadelphia.
They needed Al Horford’s sturdy presence as well. While Horford came into the game with a minutes restriction, coach Stevens made sure he could use him for the overtime period. (via the Herald)
“I asked the training staff if he could play any extra or not. In overtime games we’ve talked about that in the past – sometimes they say ‘Pull him in and out,’ maybe ‘Play him the last two minutes,’ whatever. They said he was fine,” Stevens said. “They said he was good to go. They said he looked good, felt good, and the (planned) 25 minutes is obviously precautionary, and on the very conservative side, but at the same time, we made sure we cross those T’s and dot those I’s.”
By the way, if you haven’t already read this awesome article on Jayson Tatum and his family, you should take some time to check it out. Well done by Jay King. Tatum’s mom really went out of her way to put Jayson in a position to succeed.
“She’s a really smart lady,” Hardaway said. “She tried to put herself in a position, and put Jayson in a position, where he could learn things before they actually happened. Don’t let experience be the best teacher. Try to get people who have already done it to try to give you a heads-up and an upper-hand on things that are going to come your way and how to handle certain things before they happen.”