Celtics

Robb: While issues persist, Kyrie Irving keeps putting the Celtics on his back

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX -- Brad Stevens looked to an old favorite late-game set of his when trying to put the finishing touches on a miraculous comeback by the Celtics in the final four minutes of regulation on Thursday night.

The playcall was a simple one, as he opted for the red-hot Marcus Morris at the point of attack instead of Al Horford. The play had been run regularly during end-of-game situations in the Isaiah Thomas/Kelly Olynyk era, normally with the ball starting off in the hands of Thomas, who created an open look after for himself or a teammate after getting a head of steam charging from midcourt.

This time, with the Suns having a chance to foul up 3, Stevens opted for a twist. He put the ball in the hands of Morris first and played the handoff game with his top scorer. Kyrie Irving would get the ball from Morris and have to make a decision: Pull up for a 3 or find the open man if the defense collapsed on him. The overmatched Suns opted for the latter, opening the door for a dish to a wide-open Morris 3 at the top of the key. Somehow, the Suns did not foul, but that’s what bad teams do.

Make no mistake, though, Irving made this play happen with his cut. He lost his defender on the initial move, forcing the double almost immediately. The Suns were afraid to foul and Irving timed the pass perfectly, getting the ball in the hands of the C’s best 3-point shooter this year with the game on the line.