Before this season began, the Celtics and Raptors were pegged as the teams most likely to square off in the Eastern Conference finals for the right to the throne that LeBron James and his former team had claimed for eight straight years.
Then the season started. While the Raptors looked every bit like the team they were supposed to be, the Celtics struggled out of the gate, with a wheezing offense weighing them down. It looked like that would be the case again Friday night, as the Raptors took control through the first three quarters at TD Garden.
Kyrie Irving, though, had other ideas.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china
Irving finished with 43 points — 23 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime — to go with 11 assists to lift the Celtics to a thrilling 123-116 overtime win.
For Boston, it was a much-needed victory in a game that easily could have been mistaken for one in late May, not mid-November.
“It’s just not too often during the regular season you get to have games like this,” Irving said. “So you want to take full advantage of them. They’re a great test for your team on both ends of the basketball floor. A great player in the other locker room. So you’ve just got to be on your P’s and Q’s for the unknown, and that’s the competition.
“The level of play raises, and you’ve just got to appreciate that.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china
Irving certainly raised his level of play and, in doing so, raised that of the Celtics as a whole.
Even with subtle improvements lately, Boston entered the night ranked near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency (23rd), due in large part to its struggles getting to the basket.
Through much of Friday’s game, that was again the case. The Celtics settled for one jumper after another, failing to either get to the rim or the foul line. After Raptors forward Pascal Siakam hit two of them to open the fourth quarter, Toronto had attempted 25 free throws; Boston had taken only 12.
But then, it appeared a light finally went off for the Celtics, especially Irving. Once he and his teammates began attacking the rim, things finally began to open up for Boston offensively.