What a difference a point guard makes. The switch from Kyrie to Kemba has turned the Celtics around. They are currently at the top of the Eastern standings with eight wins and only one loss, and more importantly for them, they look like a team again.
When Kyrie left and Kemba signed, many wondered how will Kemba adapt to sharing the ball. He was all that Charlotte had and was used to taking all the shots he wanted, then some shots the Hornets needed him to take and only then to pass. Those concerns are proven to be inaccurate.
Watching the Celtics play compared to last season is night and day. The ball moves, it’s an equal opportunity system and you can tell just by looking at the players. Kyrie taking over in the 4th quarter is magical and with Kyrie, you know you have a guy that can turn nothing into something – especially useful in the playoffs.
But the cost of that magic is the way it affects other players on the court. They just stand away from the basket, leave Kyrie as much room to operate and maybe get a rebound. That has a cascading effect on motivation, effort, and performance. Here’s how Paul Pierce explains it (via The Jump):
“They got better leadership in there, let’s call it like it is. Better. Kemba is known throughout the league as a great leader. He played on losing teams, stayed positive, played hard every night. That can be infectious, that can be the difference between losing and winning. That’s what he’s brought to the Celtics.“
Jackie MacMullan made a very clear example – when players miss a shot Kemba is there to encourage them to keep shooting, boosting their confidence. Last year Kyrie was doing the opposite. Now there are no side glances and finger-pointing. T