Kyrie OUT (Personal Reasons) vs. Utah

Kyrie Irving is set to miss tonight’s game in Utah to attend his grandfather’s memorial service. Irving had this plan in place with the Celtics early this week and he plans to be back on the court in Portland Sunday vs. the Trailblazers.

What Does This Mean?

Expect Terry Rozier to fill in at point guard in Irving’s absence but due to matchups don’t be surprised if Marcus Smart takes that spot. It basically depends on whether or not the Celtics want Smart to check Donovan Mitchell to start. No matter who starts, both guard’s minutes will increase for this game, and look for Rozier to build upon his efforts from last night (10 pts 6 rebs) in some extended minutes. Hopefully he can continue to gain confidence, play within himself, and not try to do too much.

Another side plot is who will take the reigns as Boston’s go to option with Irving sidelined. I’d put my money on Jayson Tatum as he’s been relatively quiet offensively ever since starting off smoldering hot the first few games (11.2 pts 33.9% fg his last 6 games). Also, if Jaylen Brown continues to be aggressive and drive hard to the rack (15.4 pts and 4.8 rebs his last 5 games) he could be in for a big game. I usually would be led to predict Gordon Hayward to pick up the slack due to his return to Utah and all of the emotion that comes with that but he’s been more of a wild card to start the season. He’s still working his way up to speed and it’s not clear when this will come all the way back to him. With Irving sidelined this will be a test for the Celtics as they can’t rely on him to bail them out when the offense looks poor or when shots aren’t falling.

-Chuck

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