Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Irving repeatedly wrestled with the mask Tuesday, fidgeting with the straps at times while dribbling up the court and removing it completely during almost every dead-ball situation. When he missed a layup while being fouled on a late first-half drive, Irving angrily pried it off his face.
Asked after the game how his face was feeling, Irving deadpanned, “It’s broken. That’s that.”
He initially brushed aside a question about the discomfort, saying simply, “It is what it is.” But he eventually relented and said that the mask makes things difficult for him.
“It’s almost like having somewhat foggy blinders on,” Irving said. “When I take off the mask, I can see everything. And when I have the mask on, I’m really dialed into what’s in front of me. My peripherals are a little cut off, up and down. It’s something to get used to.”
The mask hysteria was fun, but I hope it dies down. It’s obviously a nuisance for Kyrie, but not enough of one to truly limit his production.
A quick glance at Irving’s numbers shows a drop from last season in just about every category except defense. He’s averaging fewer minutes (35 – 30), shots (19-17), points (25-20) and shooting a tick worse (47 -44%). I’m in no way concerned, just mildly surprised. One might expect Irving to shoulder more work with the absence of Gordon Hayward but that’s not the case. Credit to Brad Stevens’ offense and the Celtics depth. It’s also reassuring to know Kyrie has yet to step on the throttle.
Marcus Morris (21 points, 10 reb) was the hero du jour last night. It’s amazing how many guys are stepping up and making contributions. Did anyone expect Morris, Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes to make such an impact?
PS – Irving joked he had to ditch the black mask he wore once in Cleveland (and scored 41 points with) because it limited his peripheral vision and he could only see the basket.
Related links: ESPN Boston – Irving returns as Cs win 13th straight | Herald – Return of Kyrie helps Celtics extend streak | Globe – Celtics reject Nets challenge | Mass Live – Irving, Morris help Cs hold off Nets
On Page 2, the fruits of the Nets trade were on display last night.
Now that we’ve reaped all the benefits of that deal and can see the actual talent on the court, I actually feel sympathy for the Nets franchise and fans.
Related: Globe – Celtics play Nets for 1st time w/o added incentive | Herald – Green, Nets no longer tied by historic trade