The Boston Celtics defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at TD Garden by a score of 122-116. Kyrie Irving led the way once again with 38 points (14/21 FG), 11 assists, and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes.
Boston got off to a quick 6/10 start from the floor, thanks to some phenomenal ball movement in the early going. The Celtics then missed their next seven shots, which spurred an 11-0 Memphis to bring this game even, but Boston’s bench would immediately respond with a 19-2 run of their own to take a 35-24 lead after one. Aron Baynes, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier were all +17 in just 3:15 of first quarter action. The Celtics scored 23 points over a 3:30 span.
Marcus Smart, who was staggered in with the second unit at the end of the first quarter, showcased his improved three-point shooting once again, starting 4/5 from beyond the arc.
Boston’s ball movement continued during the second quarter, as they had 14 assists on their first 18 field goals. Despite these solid numbers, the Celtics had 9 first-half turnovers, which allowed Memphis to create for themselves on the other end of the floor. The Grizzlies ripped off a 34-14 run heading into halftime. After leading by 16 with 9:30 left in the half, Boston trailed 62-58 at the break.
The game of runs continued to start the second half with a swift 7-0 Celtics burst in the first 72 seconds of the third quarter. Smart remained hot from deep, knocking down two more threes midway through the quarter to tie his season-high of six three-pointers made. However it was Irving who really kept Boston moving. The all-star point guard had a 20-point third quarter on 7/10 FG. Irving was up to 30 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds heading into the final frame.
A back-and-forth fourth quarter came down to the final stretch, while Irving continued his tremendous night with spin cycles like this one.
His footwork was really incredible throughout, and as the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach said, the Celtics went into “give-it-to-Kyrie-and-get-out-of-the-way mode”. Irving went at Mike Conley to help Boston extend their lead to eight with just under 90 seconds to go.
Irving would finish with 38 points (28 in the second half) on 14/21 shooting, 11 assists, and 7 rebound for his second straight game with 20-plus points and 10-plus assists. You cannot overlook the impact of Smart, Baynes, Brown, and Rozier tonight, but Kyrie was simply too much for Memphis in the second half.
The Celtics now travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks tomorrow night at 7:30 PM EST.