Kyrie Irving entered Monday night’s game shooting just under 40 percent on 7.6 attempts in February.
He didn’t need much to surpass that benchmark, but he tore through it with a 4-of-4 start outside. As a team, Boston hit eight of its first 11 threes, unloading on the Grizzlies with over 60 percent efficiency deep into the second quarter. The Celtics worked a 26-point lead at half, and Irving finished with 25 on 8-of-13 shooting, as they won handily 109-98.
Irving’s first three handed the Celts a 8-4 lead, before two inside makes by Aron Baynes, back off two missed games with a sore elbow. Then Irving set up Jaylen Brown for a pair of corner threes. Marcus Smart entered with a 14-10 lead and would push the game into blowout territory about midway through the second.
Irving and Smart traded threes, then Jayson Tatum hit his first to cap a 3-of-4 stretch from outside over four possessions. But Boston’s smaller lineup proved vulnerable against the Grizzlies’ dribble drives. Boston led by only three midway through the first when Daniel Theis entered.
Terry Rozier hit a three at the top of the arc from Smart, and then a full bench unit including Semi Ojeleye and Marcus Morris entered. This group would lead a +17 stretch through the second quarter, amounting to a 47-21 Celtics run that put the team up 67-41 at half.
Smart and Morris fed Theis with lobs to the rim to start the half. Rozier faked a pick-and-roll set to Theis and took it himself inside for a three-point play. He hit his first four shots, scoring 12 points in seven minutes.
When Rozier exited, following Theis’ pass to the low post for a Morris layup, the Cs led 50-30. Irving and Brown returned, and Horford failed to get in on the three-point party with a miss above the arc, but the rebound bounced right back to him, and he dished the ball to Irving in the corner for his fifth three in six attempts.
Into the second half, even while sporting a 26-point edge, the Celtics continued to respond to makes from JaMychal Green and Gasol. Morris followed Smart’s steal and run in transition, while Baynes picked up four straight points cleaning up misses near the basket by Horford and Morris. Eight minutes into the third quarter, the Grizzlies only chipped two points off of Boston’s halftime lead.
But by the end of the frame, Memphis managed to chip nine points off, winning the quarter and pulling within 86-69 on a 5-0 run over the final 3:50 while shutting the Celtics out.
Brown broke open Boston’s scoring again to open the final quarter, stripping Mario Chalmers and spinning around him to break away wide open for a monstrous dunk. Brown’s ensuing layup and a Shane Larkin jumper extended the lead to 21, but Memphis worked back to 13 behind an eight-point push by Green through the middle portion of the quarter quarter.
They’d reach 11 on Brice Johnson’s last-second dunk, but that’s as close as they’d pull.
By the end of the fourth, Boston’s bench racked up 50 points, with Morris, Rozier and Theis all reaching double figures. Everybody ultimately entered the game, except for Greg Monroe.