Thursday's Storylines Went Well Beyond the Score in Miami
MIAMI – Thursday night may have been the most intriguing night of the season for the Boston Celtics, and that notion has little to do with the fact that they fell 115-99 to the Miami Heat.
Beyond the score were three storylines that surfaced, which ranged from a superstar keeping the lights on for after hours in Miami, to a once-in-a-lifetime moment with an idol, to a seldom-used rookie making a not-so-rookie impact.
See? Told ya. You’re intrigued – far more than you were by that score.
So without further ado, let’s dive right into Thursday’s stories beyond the score.
Kyrie Kept the Lights On
Kyrie Irving, still dressed in his game outfit (sans the jersey) 50 minutes after Boston’s loss to Miami, was addressing the media in front of a white board in Boston’s locker room when, to everyone’s surprise, the lights suddenly turned off.
“You shot the lights out in practice,” a reporter cleverly quipped.
In a way, Irving did, and not during the game.
Moments earlier, Irving entered the locker room in his game garb and revealed to reporters that he immediately went to Miami’s practice court to get a workout in following Boston’s 115-99 defeat. Although he shot 10-for-19 from the field and led all scorers with 22 points, the night just didn’t feel right to Irving, and he felt the need to change that.
“I just want to feel good about my jump shot,” the five-time All-Star said. “The shots that I missed tonight were very makeable ones. And the shots that I did take tonight – I just wanted to feel good about it. That’s all.”
Irving presumably went to the practice court with his individual coach, Jerome Allen, who was seen exiting Boston’s locker room right when Irving began speaking to the media, which was far after the rest of the coaching staff had exited the building.
Irving went on to explain what he worked on while he was out on the court.
“Just kinda imitating things that the defense was doing to me tonight, the pressure they were putting on me,” he revealed, before adding that he hit better than 90 percent of his shots. “And like I said, situations that I didn’t take advantage of.”
Irving said that he would rather be in the gym working out than be out in the nightlife of Miami. He also suggested that the brief workout will allow him to sleep with a clear mind when he puts his head to the pillow tonight.
“Just good to get some shots up, relieve some stress a little bit,” the point guard stated. “And after a tough loss on a back-to-back, it’s just good to see the shot go in a little bit. It’s just therapeutic.”
An Unforgettable Moment with an Idol
Terry Rozier has always been very clear when discussing his idol. It has been, and always will be, Dwyane Wade.
Wade is in his final NBA season and has created a ritual where he swaps his game jersey with opposing players following most, if not every, game. Rozier wasn’t interested in Wade’s jersey ending up in anyone’s hands but his Thursday night.
“It was mandatory I got his jersey,” Rozier said with his uniquely wry smile. “I wouldn’t let no one else get it.”
The point guard went on to give insight into the relationship he’s developed with his favorite player of all time.
‘We became good friends over the last couple of years,” Rozier said. “He texted me right before the season started and wished me good luck before the season, and I told him, ‘When this day comes – when we play him today – I’m gonna need that jersey.’”
Now, he’s got it. The jersey swap took place immediately after the game, and there were plenty of cameras there to catch it (as you can see up top).
A Not-So-Rookie Impact
Robert Williams is a rookie. He’s not supposed to spark a dramatic comeback after replacing Al Horford.
But that’s exactly what he did Thursday night.
Boston trailed the Heat by 25 points when Williams replaced Horford with 8:14 remaining in the third quarter, and that deficit bumped up to 26 when James Johnson connected on his second free throw after Williams entered the game.
Five minutes and 39 seconds later, the Celtics were back to within eight, with a real shot at grabbing a stunning comeback win in Miami.
“Robert gave us a huge lift. He was excellent,” Brad Stevens said after the game. He soon added, “I mean, he gave us a chance, along with that group (with which he was on the court).”
Williams was in the game alongside Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum – the team’s other four starters. The C’s pulled to within eight and gained possession of the ball, but a missed 3-pointer by Irving, followed by a trey from Dwyane Wade, seemed to zap Boston of its Williams-led mojo.
Still, that can’t diminish the impact the rookie made. His energy was infectious, and it helped Boston to outscore Miami by 15 points during his 14 minutes of action. Only one other member of the C’s had a positive plus/minus rating, and that was Morris, at plus-three.
“I feel like our energy was down tonight,” he said after the game. “It wasn’t what it needed to be coming from this team. So I just tried to bring energy and get open shots for our scorers.”
And, according to him, his effort worked, because the C’s looked like a different team during their 16-0 run with him on the court.
“I just felt like we came together, more than anything,” Williams said of the spurt. “That’s the most I heard us talk on the court all night, even watching on the bench.”
Kyrie Irving later likened Williams to a “clay figure,” one which Boston’s veterans are helping to mold into an impactful member of this squad. Thursday night, however, it was Williams who was doing the molding; he molded the game back into one the Celtics truly had a shot at winning.