Kyrie Irving saved what started as an offensive slog with a season-high 39 points - the Celtic guard's second 30-plus performance in as many games - and the C's thus withstood an equally withering 38-point performance by the Suns' Devin Booker.
And that's exactly what we saw during the Celtics' 116-109 overtime triumph over the Suns Thursday night at Talking Stick Arena.
The Celtics were an absolute mess during a first half in which Irving was the only starter to score, his first-unit brethren missing all 15 shots they took while not generating a single point between them in 50 combined minutes of floor time. This season, he's averaging 7.5 points, 2.1 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in 10 contests. Stevens scrambled to make changes in the second half, starting Marcus Smart ahead of Jayson Tatum, who sat for the first nine minutes of the third quarter.
"I told Igor we didn't deserve to win the game", Stevens said of Igor Kokoskov, the Suns coach. Boston shot 18 percent overall in the first quarter and trailed by as much as 18 in the frame.
For a team struggling to find its identity, Brad Stevens forced his guys to dig deep, stay focused and keep fighting. "I worked on my 3-pointers extensively".
"I talk to Terry quite a bit and I haven't heard any of those types of things, so I don't know how reliable any of the sources or rumors are", said Ainge.More news: Norwegian frigate sinking after being rammed by tanker
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"We just fell apart down the stretch". We're going to be fine, Brad's going to make sure of it, my teammates are going to make sure of it.
And then, the Celtics everyone was expecting before the season showed up, led once again by Kyrie Irving.
Celtics: At the Utah Jazz on Friday in their second set of back-to-back games this season.
"Terry knew going in this year what his situation what his role was going to be and he was as excited and enthusiastic as anybody on our team for the upcoming season", added Ainge.
Warren scored 19 first-half points as Phoenix led 55-35 at the break. Regardless of the circumstances, Thursday's win should be the sort that gets this team moving in the right direction.