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.
“I think he’s maybe a little out of shape,” Heinsohn stated, while recognizing that Irving was coming off of offseason knee surgery. “To me, it looks like he’s a little overweight. And to me — his timing, his quickness — he’s maybe an instant slower than he’s been.”
Rather than viewing Heinsohn’s criticism in a negative light, Irving used it as motivation.
“I was on the bike the next morning,” Irving claimed. “I was on the Versaclimb, I was doing everything possible to make sure I prepared my body for what’s to come the rest of the season.”
Irving needed some form of encouragement, and Heinsohn’s comments, which he stumbled upon last week, came at just the right time.
“It’s always great when someone challenges you like that, especially with the respect-level that I have for past Celtics Legends,” said Irving. “And for him to really kind of pinpoint, as me being one of the leaders on this team, a main [focal] point of this team, I had to be in better shape as well as challenge myself on both ends of the floor. I think he made it very clear to me.
Kyrie Irving then went on to clarify that giving short, simple, concise answers would literally kill him (Ok, not really).
It was the perfect storm of circumstances that got Kyrie back to looking like his normal self. With Heinsohn’s comments as a wake-up call, he ditched the Hendrix look, hit the treadmill, and took previously 4-0 Detroit Pistons to school. Irving’s 30 points (10-16 shooting), five assists, and five rebounds probably surprised many of us, as he posted just three points (1-5 shooting) to go with seven rebounds and five assists against the same Pistons team on Saturday. Playing yesterday’s game in Boston might have helped him get comfortable, but the most logical conclusion could be tied to the most significant change of all: shaving the afro. With great success requires sacrifice, or so they say. RIP Shimmy Hendrix.
(Apparently Jayson Tatum disagrees with me)
I find it strange that it was Tommy’s comments that inspired Kyrie to work a little harder to get in shape, as if he wasn’t already tracking his progress since coming back from his injury. We hear so much about diet, body fat percentage, and weird workout equipment these days, I figured that even if an athlete wasn’t totally on top of their conditioning, that a trainer would have notes on a clipboard somewhere to help them along. Then again, reading too much into a Kyrie Irving quote is asking for trouble – it’s nearly impossible to parse through it and separate the most important few words from the rest. Reading his quotes is like a scavenger hunt for philosophy majors.
On page 2, Aron Baynes is in one piece
We were starting to get ‘Hospital Celtics’ vibes from early injuries to Daniel Theis and Baynes early in the year, but it looks like Baynes is in better shape than expected. And from now on, I’m calling banging knees to cover up the pain of another ailment “The Australian Recovery Program”. It’s like a really masochistic spin on drinking to cover up a hangover.
Seeing guys like Baynes and Al Horford hold their own against the Pistons is about as good as Kyrie torching their guards, if you ask me. Griffin was looking unstoppable in Detroit’s first games (dropped 50 on Philadelphia, scored 31 in two games vs Boston), and while Andre Drummond’s stock may have wavered in the past couple years, he’s still Andre Drummond: enormous and deceptively quick for somebody with his build. (Drummond’s only game this year without a double-double was Saturday vs Boston)
I’m putting ‘turning Aron Baynes into a modern NBA center’ onto the mantles of Brad Stevens’ greatest accomplishments, right next to Jordan Crawford’s Player of the Week award. I’ve seen Karl-Anthony Towns and Jonas Valanciunas get played straight off the court in playoff games, and yet Baynes has carved a niche for himself to always be relevant while he’s in. He’s secretly one of the best post defenders in basketball (seriously), and adding a three-point shot is icing on the cake. In a potential playoff series against Detroit, I’d take Baynes’ defense over nearly anybody else’s, which is why I can’t believe nobody has outbid the Celtics for him two years in a row.
The rest of the links
Boston Herald: Kyrie Irving finds form as Celtics take down Pistons