Kyrie Irving Salutes Celtics, Acknowledges Boston’s Bright Future

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The Celtics handed the Mavericks a humbling reality check during their matchup on Monday night, marking the ninth consecutive Boston victory over ex-guard Kyrie Irving — a streak that dates back to 2021.

Irving, who underwent an ugly breakup with Boston after two seasons playing alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, has struggled with a young and talented Dallas roster. Headlined by four-time All-Star Luka Doncic, the Mavericks are reaching to maintain playoff contention, sitting at the No. 8 seed at 24-20 while having lost three in a row this season.

That’s a much different story from what’s gone down in Boston. The new and improved Celtics, which underwent a massive roster transformation this past offseason, have repaid the front office and ownership’s investment. And now five years removed from last playing in Boston, Irving also notices a grown Celtics team poised for greater heights down the stretch.

“We didn’t get to see their full team tonight — starting five, full rotation and stuff like we saw against Denver, but I gotta give them credit, man,” Irving told reporters after Boston’s 119-110 win over Dallas, per WFAA video. “They have done incredibly well this season and finished last season pretty strong and making some changes, making some trades. And you can tell they found their chemistry. They found the guys that are going to get them over that hump, and who knows what will happen down there in the next few months. I wish them well.”

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From start to finish, Boston outplayed and punished the Mavericks. Brown introduced Doncic to a level of physicality that Dallas’ No. 1 wasn’t prepared for. Tatum bully-balled ex-teammate Grant Williams by viciously blocking a half-court shot attempt and sending the ball deep into the stands. And by the end, Tatum and Brown had combined for 73 points, having their way offensively despite Boston’s 32.6% shooting from 3-point range.

Boston’s supporting cast had no issue building off that foundation, giving the Celtics a second-straight win on the second night of a back-to-back.

“I think they do a great job of shrinking the floor, playing through their guys — JT and JB — and then you got some quality high IQ basketball players over there in their locker room with Jrue Holiday and Al Horford, who have a lot of veteran leadership,” Irving added. “So, those guys know who to play through, what plays to run, their bench played pretty well. … They didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from three, but they still got 46 attempts. It just shows you what they’re looking for as an offensive juggernaut.”

Irving finished the night with 23 points, shooting 9-of-23 from the field.

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