You’re probably saying, “We’re only 12 games into the season, how can you say that a team as new as the Celtics are the favorites to come out of the East?” Tell that to Kyrie Irving and the Celtics who show no signs of slowing down after winning 10 games in a row. Are they legit? Only time will tell. But for now, they have the best record in the entire league.
The Cavaliers have a new group as well, but that didn’t stop everyone from proclaiming their inevitable waltz to The Finals for LeBron’s 8th consecutive appearance. It’s expected for new teams to struggle, but the Celtics have fared significantly better than their Cleveland counterparts and Kyrie has been been at the center of it all. Again, I’m aware that it’s early in the season, but his numbers thus far are worth taking a look at since they directly translate to his team’s success.
Without having a crazy scoring average, 19th in the league at 22 PPG, Kyrie has been able to slightly modify his game in Boston to contribute to wins. He leads the league in clutch field goals made at 2 per game, and is currently posting the best AST/TO ratio of his career. But it’s not just what he’s doing on offense that’s propelling the Celtics into a contender, there’s been a marked difference in his defensive awareness and effort this year. For instance, he’s already tallied 25 steals through these first 12 games, putting him on pace to demolish his previous career high by 57 steals. Another example of his improved prowess on defense is his increase in blocks this year. Here’s DiKyrie Mutumbo in action when Khris Middleton assumed he had a height advantage:
Kyrie Irving is taking care of the ball, finding his teammates, playing his best defense and delivering buckets when they matter most. Can the Celtics keep up this pace for the rest of the season? Probably not, but in light of Cleveland’s recent struggles, Boston is now the team to beat in the East. What is certain is that Kyrie’s superstar play will be a constant for this team. He is the best player on the best team, and that sounds like an MVP to me.