Plenty of young Celtics have been thrown into the fire early this season as Boston deals with a plethora of injuries to its veteran players.
Friday night, that youthful group found itself in the midst of an exciting, fourth-quarter nail-biter in Philadelphia, but they needed a veteran star to help them close out against the 76ers. Thankfully, they had four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving to lean on, and he helped get the job done.
Irving started the fourth quarter on the sidelines, and entered the game at the 6:45 mark when the Celtics were clinging to an 86-84 lead. It would have been a daunting task for Boston’s inexperienced players to close out the game, but Irving’s presence seemed to have a calming effect on his younger teammates as they finished on a 16-8 run, en route to a 102-92 win.
Irving helped start off the stretch by connecting on consecutive pullup jumpers. He then assisted on a Shane Larkin 3-pointer that put Boston ahead 95-88 with 3:26 remaining.
The 76ers pulled back within five points, but Irving was fouled on a 3-point shot at the 1:34 mark. He sunk all three of his free throws to regain a commanding, eight-point lead.
Irving used the final minute of play to show off his defense. He picked off a bad pass by Joel Embiid as the 76ers tried to make it a two-possession game, and then snagged the rock from Ben Simmons on Philly’s final possession to seal the win.