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.
Unsurprisingly, the offensive revival has been sparked by the team’s best offensive player. Kyrie Irving continued his best scoring stretch of this season, and once again the score was so lopsided that he was able to watch the final 15 minutes from the bench.
Before that, though, the damage he had inflicted on the Hornets was extensive. The All-Star point guard had 34 points on 13 of 18 shooting in just 24 minutes. Over his past two blowout-shortened performances, he has played a total of 49 minutes — essentially one full game — and his statistics are staggering: 59 points on 21 for 31 shooting overall, 9 of 14 from beyond the 3-point arc, as well as 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Stevens said it was clear the team’s struggles prior to the break were grating on Irving. But at that night practice, there was a shift.
“We were ready to go,” Stevens said, “and he was as locked in as anybody.”
Irving said that he has been playing with a more aggressive mind-set in recent games, and if this is what it looks like when he plays that way, the Celtics would do well to encourage it more often.
Boston Globe — Kyrie Irving leads Celtics’ romp over Hornets
Kyrie Irving has been great since the All-Star break, but am I the only one who found last night’s performance completely dominating and visually spectacular on another level?
Kyrie stepped on the court with such intention and it didn’t take long to realize he was going to actualize that intention with every dribble of the ball and every decision he made on the offensive end. I, for one, never have wanted to compare Kyrie performances with IT performances. As a fan, I’m just appreciative we’ve had the chance to watch both guys, at or near the apex of their games, in green and white jerseys.
But I’m not sure there are more than three or four players in the NBA that can do what Kyrie did last night, especially when put in the context of his last four games (last night felt a little Harden or Curry-esque to me).
Irving came out looking to score– he got to his spots and hit almost everything. In his short stint to end the second quarter, he was a bit more selective. I’d have to assume part of that purpose was so not to upset the flow and momentum that members of the second unit created. With the game still in question at the start of the second half, Kyrie went back into attack mode, and in doing so buried the beleaguered Hornets for good.
He can’t keep up this torrid pace (can he?), but there’s no doubt he’s shooting the basketball better than he was at the start of the season.
All this to say, it seems as though Kyrie was adjusting to his new team, his new reality after the Hayward injury, and almost letting his young guys get their sea-legs over the course of the first half of the season. Now it’s the stretch run and maybe it’s the slew of below-average teams he’s played (and other than Kemba last night, below-average point guards), but Kyrie’s clearly not fucking around.
Who’s ready for Saturday night in Houston?!?
Mass Live — Kyrie Irving dominates
NBCBoston — Celtics blow out Hornets
On page 2, wait a minute, Mr. Post-Man
The Boston Celtics might not always be able to find minutes for Greg Monroe, and the big man is ready for that contingency.
“These guys were rolling before I got here,” Monroe said before Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. “I don’t expect anything to stop because of me. Nothing can really surprise me right now.”
But some nights, everything will come together. Some nights, the Celtics will be down a rotation big man, and the opposition will play a player like Willy Hernangomez significant minutes.
On those nights, the Celtics will need exactly what Monroe gave them on Wednesday. In easily his best game since joining the team, Monroe dropped 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He was +13 in his 21 minutes and gave the Celtics a new look they aren’t always used to having: Isolation post-ups.
“We didn’t have a ton of post actions in prior to him arriving,” Stevens said. “We’ll post some, but now obviously in the second unit, if (Monroe) is being guarded by a back-up center we’ll look to do that more.”
Mass Live — Greg Monroe shows Boston his value
It was hard not to smile after Greg Monroe’s third straight undressing of poor Willy Hernangomez on the right block in the second quarter. For starters, that’s the type of stuff Monroe used to do to the Celtics all the time. It was also a complete juxtaposition of the second quarter two nights earlier against Memphis — Monroe wasn’t sitting on the block, but instead on a chair, his warm-ups never coming off for a game in which he didn’t play. To Monroe’s credit, he seems to have known that there’d be nights like that one when he signed to come to Boston for big buyout money.
But the third reason to smile about last night, is exactly what Westerholm alludes to in his article: It’s just nice to know that when the Celtics need something a little different to get going offensively, or if there’s a match-up to exploit, Monroe can do it with his size and skill in the post. Greg Monroe could be this season’s Gerald Green, or an 07-08 PJ Brown in the playoffs. Last night was a preview of what that could look like.
Also, if you had under four years before I made my first Marvellettes reference in a Morning Dump, congratulations. Tell them what they’ve won, John Karalis!
And finally, Jaylen’s heading to Harvard
Celtics second-year swingman Jaylen Brown, never bashful about sharing his opinions about issues beyond basketball, will speak at Harvard University on Thursday night as part of a speaker series for its Graduate School of Education.
The 21-year-old’s invite stemmed from a simple social media exchange after students and staff at the university saw Brown’s comments on issues including politics and race. Brown, who played one season at Cal, had previously expressed a desire to immerse himself in Boston’s higher-education scene.
“Who wouldn’t be intrigued by that? Harvard only asks a select few people to come give a lecture or come speak at Harvard,” Brown said. “I think the last person they had was like Cornel West or Colin Powell. So it’s a pleasure to be able to speak in front of a crowd like that at a prestigious university such as Harvard.
“I can’t wait to get out there and share my ideas.”
This is so awesome– I’d love to be there to watch Jaylen speak on issues of race, politics and sports. Remember when draftniks said that Brown’s intelligence and passion for learning outside the game was a flaw? Not only is his developing on-court game proving that to be false, but check out these quotes from an elder teammate and coach:
“From when I met Jaylen last year as a rookie, what stood out to me was just his maturity,” said Celtics big man Al Horford, who spent time this offseason working out with Brown in Georgia. “He’s a guy that’s not your average second-year guy. I feel like he’s very aware of the world and he’s not afraid to take chances. Getting to know him, that’s what I’ve seen.
“Obviously, he’s a smart guy and he’s really curious about getting better on the basketball court and a lot of other things,” said Boston coach Brad Stevens. “I’ve really enjoyed spending time around him. I think he’s really thoughtful. I think he’s a guy that wants to continue to grow in every way.
Have fun tonight, Jaylen.