Celtics manage Irving's playing time, and the extra rest does him good


When it comes to Kyrie Irving’s time in Boston, it’s clear that things are a little different here than they were in Cleveland. 

Following Boston’s 102-91 win at Charlotte on Wednesday, Irving discussed how the way he’s used down the stretch in the fourth quarter in Boston isn’t quite the same as how things went down in the fourth when he played for the Cavaliers.

“It’s definitely a learning experience for me because that’s a time where, I was afforded when I was in Cleveland to be able to kind of tell T-Lue (head coach Tyronn Lue) and the other coaches, ‘I’m ready to go in,’” Irving said. “That was kind of on my end. Coming into the environment I’m in with Brad (Stevens, the Celtics’ head coach), his intellect of the game and being able to trust what we have going on and what’s going on throughout the game -- not that I didn’t trust what was going on before (in Cleveland) --  but for me it’s been where I have to be patient.”


And that patience has paid off for both Irving and the Celtics (28-10), who have had the best record in the East for most of this season. 

The four-time All Star has still posted numbers that rank among the best in the East and will likely land him a spot in the All-star game once again. 

But his play has been more efficient in terms of the stats he’s generating while playing fewer minutes, which bodes well for the Celtics in their quest to keep their best player as healthy as possible for as long as possible. 

For the Celtics, Irving is averaging 24.7 points in 32.2 minutes per game, which is the fewest minutes he has averaged while generating 20 or more points per game. 

And the fourth quarter which Irving has dubbed, “winning time,” he still ranks among the league leaders in that area despite playing limited minutes. 

In Boston’s win over Charlotte, Irving had four points in the fourth quarter on 2-for-3 shooting with two assists while playing five minutes, 19 seconds. 

Irving averages 6.7 points per game in the fourth quarter, which ranks sixth in the NBA. And yet, he does it in 7.1 minutes per game, which ranks 19th among the top-20 fourth quarter scorers in the league. 

“My impact on the game is felt a little different,” Irving said.

But he admits there are times when as much as he trusts Stevens to put him back in at the appropriate time in the fourth, sometimes he wants to get back in sooner. 

“But whatever is needed, I’m willing to do for the team,” Irving said. “And I know Brad will echo the same things, so I trust what he’s got going on.”


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