Boston Celtics at San Antonio Spurs
When: 7:00 PM ET, Monday, December 31, 2018
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
SAN ANTONIO – The Boston Celtics have a chance to clinch a winning three-game road trip thanks to star point guard Kyrie Irving picking up his level of play and carrying the team of late. Irving will try to lead the Celtics to a fourth win in five contests when they close out a three-game trip by visiting the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
Irving is averaging 28.5 points on 55.4 percent shooting over the last four games and recorded a double-double in each of the last three contests. “Offensively, it felt like they were trying to take the ball out of my hands, and just the reads off of that, you saw other opportunities open up in the second half as we were being more active off the ball,” Irving told reporters after collecting 26 points along with 13 assists and helping Boston recover from a 19-point deficit at Memphis on Saturday. “Just telling these guys, be as consistent as possible. You don’t have to touch the ball every single play down (the court) to be effective. You can be effective doing the little things, and that is what we did in the second half.” The Spurs are winners of nine of their last 12 contests and finished off a two-game road trip by knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers 122-111 on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday. The win marked the fifth time in the last nine games that San Antonio scored at least 122 points.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBATV, NBCS Boston, KENS (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE CELTICS (21-14): Irving is taking his role as a leader on the team seriously and stepped up at halftime to challenge his teammates. “I think that at the half, Kyrie challenged all of us to be better,” center Al Horford told reporters. “Coach (did) as well. I felt like we came out with better energy, played much harder. And also, at the start of the fourth, our group that were in there with, Jaylen Brown and Guerschon (Yabusele), their energy was great, and it put us in a position to take over the game late.” Horford scored 18 points and went 5-of-7 from 3-point range in his best outing among four since returning from a seven-game absence.
ABOUT THE SPURS (20-17): Leading the offensive surge for San Antonio is All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 22.1 points on 58.9 percent shooting in December and poured in a season-high 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting against the Clippers. Aldridge scored 20 or more points in 10 of the 15 games this month, including each of the last three, to bring his season average up to 19.5 points. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan is filling up the boxscore as well and collected 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four steals on Saturday.
1. Celtics rookie C Robert Williams (groin) sat out the last three games and is day-to-day.
2. San Antonio C Pau Gasol (foot) sat out the last 28 games but could return on Monday.
3. The teams split the two-game series last season, with the home team winning each matchup.