Celtics' Kyrie Irving: No black mask if you want me to pass


The Celtics try to keep their winning streak alive Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving expressed frustration with the clear protective mask that he wore while returning to game action Tuesday night but said it was still a better option than the black one he once used during a memorable performance here in NY. "When I have the mask on, I'm really dialed into what's in front of me, my peripherals are a little cut off, but it's just something you get used to".

It was a classy end to a 25-point, five-assist performance in Irving's first action since suffering a facial fracture in a Friday night win over the Charlotte Hornets.

As irksome as the clear plastic mask might be, Irving said it was better from a team perspective than the black one he wore in 2012 with the Cleveland Cavaliers to protect a broken jaw. The Celtics will now sit at 13-2, with the NBA's best record, when they take on the West-leading defending National Basketball Association champion Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in a marquee nationally televised matchup between the league's best offense (Golden State, averaging a blistering 116.1 points per 100 possessions) and its No. 1 defense (Boston, allowing a minuscule 95.8 points-per-100). "Just finding his way and doing what he does, making big plays for us, coming through and sealing the game". Golden State is next at 11-3, and Boston got good preparation for the game against a persistent Brooklyn team.

Boston then finally put it away with Jaylen Brown's alley-oop feed to Tatum before Irving hit two free throws to make it 106-96. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert added 15 points apiece.

The pairing of Kyrie Irving and a protective mask is not a loving combination, to be sure.

"It's nearly like having somewhat foggy blinders on", Irving said.

"I don't worry about him getting a rhythm too much", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

"We're just gelling together, and we're defending our (butts) off", Morris said.

In other National Basketball Association games Tuesday, DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points and the Toronto Raptors built a big lead in the first half and held on for a 129-113 victory over the Houston Rockets in Houston.

At Dallas, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and Australian guard Patty Mills added 19 to spark the San Antonio Spurs over the Dallas Mavericks 97-91.