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Celtics 109, Nets 102: Kyrie Irving battles through mask issues for 13th straight win

Ty Anderson
November 14, 2017 - 10:12 pm

In what can only be described as an ode to Future, a 109-102 victory over the Nets was a night of mask-on, mask-off for Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.

Making his return from the facial fracture that kept him out of Sunday’s game and suffered on an inadvertent elbow from Aron Baynes last Friday, it was with the return of a fitted mask that Irving found himself the victim of seemingly unfair expectations.

That’s because the previous two versions of Masked Kyrie, which came when Irving played through a broken jaw in 2012 and then a broken nose in 2013, have been ridiculously good and produced at a borderline MVP level. But for all the talk of the damage that Masked Kyrie has done throughout his career -- and likely blown up when considering the fact that the Batman-like Irving was back in the Gotham spotlight of Brooklyn -- this seemed like a definite adjustment for the 25-year-old.

In relatable terms, Irving’s start was much more Snyder Batman than Nolan Batman.

In spite of a 17-4 start for Boston, Irving began his night with just one make on his first five field goal attempts. He was visibly struggling with the mask, too, taking it off and adjusting it at any and every whistle. This was a theme throughout the night, too.

By halftime, the Celtics were frustrated, and tied with the Nets at 52-52.

But in between smashes to the face -- Irving got clobbered on a few drives to the net and at one point seemed to get popped upstairs on a mid-court collision -- Irving found his game with a key two drained midway through the third quarter.

That shot came in the beginning stages of what was a 19-2 run for the Celtics.

But much like they did in the first half, the end of the second half came with a push from the no-name Nets. Led by Joe Harris’ team-leading 19 points and refusal to miss a three-pointer, the Nets were at more than one point well within striking distance of the C’s. And when the Nets worked their way back within five with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, it was Irving beat the 6-foot-7 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson one-on-one for an easy lay-up and re-established the Green’s seven-point edge.

At the line for the dagger free throws just moments later, and with “MVP” chants from the Celtic fans that made the trek to Brooklyn, it was Irving that provided the finishing touches on a close call. 

Irving finished the night tops among Boston players with 25 points, tied with Al Horford and Marcus Morris for the team lead in field goals made (eight), and leading all C's with five assists in 29 minutes of action. With about a thousand mask adjustments, too.

All the same for Irving and the Celtics to take their 13th straight victory back to Boston's Batcave in preparation for a Thursday night collision with the Warriors. 

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