Celtics 108, Spurs 94: It's in Danny we should really be trusting

Celtics 108, Spurs 94: It's in Danny we should really be trusting

Nobody in Boston sports history has earned more of the benefit of the doubt more than Bill Belichick. That’s why, on nights like Monday when the Patriots coach trades away Jimmy Garoppolo for a fraction of the return most were anticipating, social media is remarkably unwavering in its understanding.

It’s the type of leeway Danny Ainge might be coming close to locking in, as well.

Ainge’s roster-building acumen was put on display once again in the Celtics’ fifth straight win, a 108-94 victory over the Spurs at TD Garden. Players that, at one time or another, put the Celtics’ chief decision-maker in the crosshairs continue to make Ainge look pretty darn good. (For a complete recap of the Celtics’ win, click here.)

It was notable that the Celtics beat the Spurs, a team they hadn’t topped since 2011, while getting the better of San Antonio on the boards for the first time since 2004. But Gregg Popovich’s club was playing without its best player (Kawhi Leonard), so this more about what we saw in the C’s than anything offered from the perennial Western Conference contenders.

The chief difference-maker continued to be a player Ainge took his biggest chance on — Kyrie Irving. The eyebrow-raising surrounding that trade was more than many will ultimately admit, with some national pundits gleefully suggesting “Myrie” wouldn’t be able to be his own man without LeBron James. What we’ve witnessed in the last five games is exactly what Ainge was banking on.

Not only has Irving offered the points per game the post-Isaiah Thomas desperately needed, but he’s become much more. The point guard has been a point guard, not just a scorer. There has been the kind of ball distribution many thought wasn’t going to be part of the deal, with Irving taking advantage of the kind of opportunity to control games he wasn’t getting on a regular basis in Cleveland.

Or how about Terry Rozier? He was the guard so many thought Ainge not only reached for when taking him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft, but was playing a position the C’s simply didn’t need. And then the criticism resurfaced when the Celtics held on to the guard instead of dealing him for the likes of Serge Ibaka at last season’s trade deadline.

But here we are, with Rozier proving he is a legitimate offensive threat, with the unique ability to hit the glass better than most guards. This time around it was a run of 10 straight points in the fourth quarter that put the Spurs in the rear-view mirror.

How dare Ainge hold on to that No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft just to draft Jaylen Brown? Well, there he was netting 18 Monday night. What was Ainge thinking in trading out of the draft’s top spot when Thomas’ heir apparent, Markelle Fultz, was sitting there? Jayson Tatum played another 35 minutes in his seventh NBA game, hauling in 11 rebounds while blocking three shots. He is also averaging 15 points per game.

Second-guessing Ainge is becoming more and more difficult. That’s a reality we’re starting to learn thanks in large part to these first-place Celtics.

 



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Source: GreenStreet Blog

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