Kyrie Irving Steps Up as Celtics Battle to Victory over the Raptors
Boston, MA - Along with many other sportswriters, both national and local, I chastised the Boston Celtics recently after their three game skid against some opponents who should have been beatable in the Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Brooklyn Nets. And it seems like this pointed criticism from many might have gotten to some of the Celtics players because if there is ever going to be a turning point on this middling Celtics season, then it came last night.
Having dropped to seven games back of the Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division and with Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown getting into shoving matches on the bench and Terry Rozier actively vocalizing his disinterest in playing for Boston and Kyrie Irving calling out the younger players on the team for not playing with enough heart or energy, it seemed like rock bottom for the Celtics after falling to the Nets 109-102. They had a chance to get back in good graces with their next game coming against the Raptors. And that's just what the Celtics did.
The game was a back and forth affair between the two teams and also between Toronto's Kawhi Leonard and Boston's Irving. Eventually, it was Kyrie who took control of the game as he came in clutch towards the end of the fourth quarter with a number of go-ahead shots before burying a dagger three pointer to give the Celtics their biggest win of the season. Kyrie finished the game with twenty-seven points and eighteen assists, the latter of which was good for his career high in the category.
The leadership was apparent from Irving and it was refreshing to see him step up and actually be a leader instead of preaching about the virtues of being one while never truly showing it. Part of this shift in play might have come from the recently revealed news that Kyrie reached out to LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers to apologize for his behavior when the two played for the Cleveland Cavaliers together because Kyrie never realized how hard it was to lead. I don't know about you, but that sounds like good mojo to me!