Wednesday's Reminder: C's, Led by Kyrie, Can Beat Anyone

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

BOSTON – Bumps and bruises be damned, there’s no team in the league that the Boston Celtics can’t beat.

Wednesday night’s thrilling victory over the Toronto Raptors added more evidence to a season-long trend that has shown Boston’s expected propensity for slaying the league’s giants. The Celtics came into this season viewed by many as one of the most talented teams in the NBA, and although they have hit a few skids along the way during their first 44 games, they’ve shown that their talent can rise above anyone else’s.

Boston is now 6-3 on the season against the four teams ranked above them in the Eastern Conference standings.

Let’s reminisce about the big nights the Celtics have logged to this point that have reminded everyone that they, too, are title contenders.

October 16 vs Philadelphia – 105-87 W

Opening Night. Playoffs rematch. Superstars. Up-and-coming teams. This game had it all.

Well, except for competitiveness.

Boston played with a lead throughout the entire second half and owned a double-digit advantage for all but 23 seconds of the fourth quarter, and the Celtics did this while Kyrie Irving scored only seven points. Five other Celtics scored in double-figures, however, led by Jayson Tatum’s 23 points). Boston limited Philly to just 39.1 percent shooting from the field, and only three 76ers players (Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick) scored in double-figures.

November 1 vs. Milwaukee – 117-117 W

Although the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, totaled 33 points and 11 rebounds that night against Boston, it wasn’t nearly enough for his Bucks to hang with Irving and the Celtics. Irving scored a team-best 28 points, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford scored 18 apiece, and the Celtics led by double-figures for a significant portion of the second half.

Every time Milwaukee hit a big shot, Boston hit a bigger one to maintain its advantage. Irving and Horford combined to shoot 4-for-4 from the free-throw line during the final 12.3 seconds to secure the win.

November 16 vs. Toronto – 123-116 W (OT)

The hit list continues…

Joel Embiid? Check.

Giannis Antetokounmpo? Check.

Kawhi Leonard? After Nov. 16: Check.

Leonard was a big reason why this game reached OT. His Raptors led by five with 3:18 remaining, but he went on to commit a turnover and miss all three of his shots, including a potential game-winner at the buzzer, the rest of the way in regulation.

Hayward connected on two free throws with 24.5 seconds left to send the game to overtime, and then Boston’s offense became unstoppable – literally. It scored 16 points while not missing a single shot (6-for-6) during OT to send the Raptors packing.

December 25 vs. Philadelphia – 121-114 W (OT)

Merry Christmas, Philadelphia! Here’s an L.

A great game on one of the league’s biggest stages, Christmas Day, went to overtime when JJ Redick missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer of regulation. Again, Boston’s would go on to be dominant during an extra session against a premier squad.

The C’s outscored Philadelphia 13-6 during overtime, including two big 3-pointers from Irving, one of which took flight from 30 feet away from the basket. Once that shot fell through the net with 1:29 remaining, giving Boston a four-point lead, there was no looking back. Philly didn’t score again, and Boston iced the game from the free-throw line.

Jan. 9 vs Indiana – 135-108 W

Indiana rode into Boston having won 14 of its last 18. The Celtics, meanwhile, were 6-5 in their previous 11 games.

What do you think happened?

Right – a Boston blowout.

The Celtics owned the night from the opening tip and outscored the Pacers in all four quarters. Boston led by 15 at halftime, and that lead ballooned to 31 during the second half.

Seven Celtics scored in double-figures, led by 22 points apiece from Morris and Brown. None of Boston’s starters eclipsed 26 minutes of playing time.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Victor Oladipo, another All-Star on Boston’s hit list, totaled just 17 points and three rebounds in 26-plus minutes of action.

January 16 vs Toronto – 117-108 W

Kawhi Leonard has played two games at TD Garden as a member of the Toronto Raptors.

Kawhi Leonard has lost two games at TD Garden as a member of the Toronto Raptors.

Wednesday’s thrilling victory came down to the final minutes between the Celtics and the top team in the league at this point, Toronto. It was Irving who stepped forward and took over down the stretch by scoring or assisting on his team’s final 25 points of the night, all while Leonard failed to score a point during the final four minutes of the game.

That game was played on national television and served as the most recent reminder to the country that Boston, led by Irving, is every bit a championship contender.

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