Boston Celtics: Kyrie Irving showing unselfishness on the court

Boston Celtics Kyrie Irving (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics Kyrie Irving (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving has shown a different element of his game so far this season

Kyrie Irving has been heavily criticized throughout the duration of his career for not only his lack of playmaking, but his desire to do so. The main threats in his arsenal are his shooting, finishing, and dribbling abilities, rightfully so.

However, with various playstyles surrounding him and lots of mouths to feed, Irving has made a fine tune to his offensive prowess.

After playing in just a handful of games for Duke and receiving No. 1 overall pick honors, Irving took the court for the Cleveland Cavaliers with the gate wide open to showcase his skillset, and that he did. He showed early and often how he could take a game over with the ball in his hands. Despite a lackluster year for Cleveland, Irving was named the league’s top rookie with 117 votes out of a possible 120.

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As the years went on, his skills enhanced and he proved to be one of the league’s top players. It seemed as if there were no weaknesses for Irving on the offensive side of the ball, but critics believed in order to for him to take his game to the next level he would have to get others involved. In Irving’s defense, the ball was mostly in the hands of LeBron James due to his dynamic vision and sharp decision making.

Irving then made the biggest choice of his career and requested a trade away from Cleveland. After lots of rumors and swirling speculations, he ended up in Boston. His first season in green was a success, both statistically and on the standings. Unfortunately for Irving, his knee forced him to watch from the sidelines where his current team would suffer a heartbreaking series loss to his former club.

Fourteen games into his 2018-2019 campaign, Irving seems back to where he was prior to his injury. However, with his return came a delightful aspect that should please the fans in Boston. He is looking to get his team involved first and will let the shot attempts come when the time is right.

Irving has decreased his shot attempts per game to just 16.3 so far this season, down from his 18.1 a season ago and his career high 19.7 from his last stint in Cleveland. To put this number into perspective, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James are hovering over 19 shots per game this season and Kemba Walker has eclipsed 20 shots per contest.

Irving’s playmaking seems to be a top priority for him this season and it’s certainly been highlighted by his 5.5 assists per game with just over two turnovers to go along with them. He is also doing this by playing just over 32 minutes per game, mostly due to caution over his knee. As a member of the Cavaliers, he surpassed 35 minutes per game three times.

A prime example of his unselfishness and generosity came Wednesday night in a home contest versus the Chicago Bulls. Irving took just eight shots and to his credit found the bottom of the net six times. He also cashed in seven helpers with just one turnover to his name. A play that defines what he’s been doing this season was when he had the opportunity take a wide open jumper on the right elbow in the third quarter of the game.

Instead of shooting, he wisely passed it up to Jayson Tatum for an even better shot from the corner, which resulted in three Celtics points. Last season, we very rarely saw games where his shot attempts and assist numbers were almost equal, but it’s all Boston needed in their 111-82 victory.

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The Boston Celtics are just 8-6 on the season but it’s mostly due to recovering players and just a lack of urgency from the team. The Celtics are due for a winning streak in the next few weeks and if Irving can keep delivering like he’s portrayed in his latest stretch of games, the faithful at TD Garden should have a lot to cheer about.