Kyrie has come into Boston and, through a combination of his hard work, his new teammates and his new coaching staff, evolved into a much different player than he was in Cleveland.
The 76ers are on the opposite side of the spectrum as the Celtics ranking 6th in the National Basketball Association in offense with 108.6 points per game and 22nd in defense allowing 107.9 points per game. Celtics star Kyrie Irving added 20 points and seven assists and Marcus Morris (a Philadelphia native) had 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
JJ Reddick and Simmons were on fire early, combining for the 76ers first 16 points as they maintained a five-point advantage midway through the term.
So while the National Football League continues to stage multiple regular-season games each year in London - albeit cutting the number from four to three next season - European basketball fans may have to continue to settle for just one. That is, the Sixers build a big lead in the first quarter or two, then start turning the ball over at an alarming rate, blow a double-digit lead and either lose the game or keep it close. Redick is among the best players in the National Basketball Association in moving without the ball and he had several open looks that he knocked down, scoring 13 points on 3 of 4 three-pointers for beyond the arc in the first quarter. Brown was the man for the C's in the second, pacing the team with 10 points in the quarter.
Irving is averaging 24.1 points and 5.0 assists.
The Celtics have defeated five of the top six teams in the west, with the lone exception being the Trailblazers, who they have not played at all.
The Celtics carried that momentum over to the third quarter, taking their first lead of the night halfway through the period when Daniel Theis dunked off a Horford pass with six minutes to go. These two teams will meet up for the first time since November 30th 2017, a 108-97 Boston victory (Irving: 36 points (5-8 3FG)).
The 76ers still were well within striking distance entering the final quarter, but the Celtics quickly squashed any chances of Philly regaining the lead.
Now, what has changed since Christmas Day that has resulted in Boston's defense being so locked-in?
The court vision from Irving.
The Celtics will look to extend their winning streak when they return home to Boston and entertain the Pelicans on Tuesday. Tip-off from TD Garden is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.