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Kyrie Irving: ‘I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game’

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Even a month after Kyrie Irving admitted he erred in leading Boston, Marcus Morris said the Celtics still weren’t together.

But they’ve seemed far more cohesive in the playoffs. They swept the Pacers and have split the first two games against the Bucks. Irving – who promised Boston would be fine in the postseason “because I’m here” – has delivered. Though he struggled in Game 2 against Milwaukee, Irving has readied his teammates for this moment, as Jackie MacMullan of ESPN detailed. Of course, they’ll have to prove it as they face adversity, but it has been a nice start so far.

I recommend reading MacMullan’s full story about  Irving and the Celtics’ chemistry, but I want to focus here on one quote.

Irving, via Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

“I’ve been playing basketball a lot longer than some of these people analyzing the game,” Irving says. “I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game.

“If you ask me about basketball, I will talk all day. If you ask me about spacing at the 3:33 mark of the second quarter, I will gladly explain it. I’ll tell you what plays worked, about adjustments we make. But when it comes to personal things, or comparing myself to my NBA brothers, like, ‘Do you think you are better than this guy?’ I’m out.”

Irving is a genius on the basketball court. He is a savant as a ball-handler and scorer. He creates and coverts opportunities for himself off the dribble that are literally jaw-dropping.

But I’m not convinced he’s a genius NBA basketball player with everything that entails. For all his ability to read and react on the court, he’s merely adequate at setting up teammates. His leadership is a work in progress. He’s sometimes moody in ways that harm team morale. Those things matter, too.

I also can’t overlook the LeBron James factor. Irving has long seemed envious of the respect LeBron gets for his intelligence. We all gushed over LeBron’s memory of games. Irving wants you to know he can do that, too.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.