The Boston Celtics will go into Tuesday Night’s game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 34-10. The Celtics have led the conference since the first couple weeks of the season. They also finished in first place in the East last season. However, this is different. Although the Celtics were the top seed in the East last year, there will little to no chance of them making it to the NBA Finals. This year? There’s a chance. A very good one. The Celtics are now the favorites to win the East and there’s one big reason that’s driving it…
When the Celtics traded for Kyrie, they knew they were getting a great player. With that said, they could not have expected anything more than what they’re getting right now. He has changed the entire franchise. The team went from the little engine that could to a growing beast that the entire NBA is beginning to fear for this year and many years ahead. Granted, the addition of Jayson Tatum has also made a major impact, but Kyrie is the straw that stirs the drink in Boston.
Irving’s stats aren’t going to jump out at you.
24.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, .477 FG%, .389 3FG%
He’s not a stats guy like Russell Westbrook and James Harden. He is not about building his personal numbers up to get the MVP award. He’s about winning. He has changed the Celtics franchise from one that was a nice story to a true threat.
Now, when you read the title of this post, the majority of you were probably asking, “What about Paul Pierce?” Pierce played 15 years for the Celtics. He made ten All Star Teams. He was the face of the franchise for over a decade and was the NBA Finals MVP in the Celtics 17th championship season. Paul Pierce was a lot of things. One thing he never was is better than Kyrie Irving is this year.
If the NBA season ended today, Irving would definitely be in the top five in the NBA MVP vote. He would probably be in the top three. Lebron and James Harden would probably get more votes right now. With that said, we all know who we would rather have in a big game between Kyrie and Harden after watching Harden underperform year after year in the playoffs and letting Marcus Smart get the best of him in the clutch recently at TD Garden. Lebron’s Cavs have the fourth worst record in the NBA since Christmas and his case for the MVP is trending downward.
Kyrie Irving is a top three player in the league right now in terms of value. When was Paul Pierce ever at that level? Never. Pierce finished in the top the of the MVP race on time in his career when he finished seventh in 2009. Great player, but never elite.
What other Celtics players would be considered in the debate? Kevin Garnett? Great player, but not as dominant as Kyrie. He could not take over a game like Kyrie can.
Danny Ainge did the near impossible again by landing a superstar who hasn’t even reached his prime yet. Irving is 25 years old. We haven’t had the pleasure of watching a better Celtics player on over 25 years when Larry Bird dominated the parquet floor.
The best part? This is only the beginning. Irving appears to be poised to lead the Celtics to greatness like many of the legends before him.