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With masked Kyrie, Celtics reveal more ways to keep streak alive

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

NEW YORK -- The fans at the Barclays Center, most of whom were sporting green jerseys and T-shirts, had already serenaded Kyrie Irving with an MVP chant during fourth-quarter free throws. But the loudest cheers for the visiting squad were reserved for a sequence in the final minute when Jaylen Brown zipped an alley-oop lob to Jayson Tatum for an emphatic slam.

Irving overcame frustration with his new protective mask to score a game-high 25 points, while Brown and Tatum paired up for 32 points as the Celtics won their 13th straight game 109-102 over the Nets.

The streaking Celtics will host the defending-champion Warriors on Thursday night at TD Garden.

In the aftermath of that late-game alley-oop, the remaining Nets fans were left to watch Brown and Tatum engage in a celebratory body-bump near midcourt. It was a painful reminder of what could have been.

Both Brown and Tatum, along with Irving, were delivered to Boston by direct result of the draft picks the Nets sent the Celtics as part of the 2013 blockbuster that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn.

This was the first time since 2013 that Boston played a game against Brooklyn that did not have implications on a future pick, and Celtics fans had often utilized the hashtag #Netspick while basking in Brooklyn's recent struggles. On Tuesday, Celtics fans simply enjoyed watching the exploits of their past picks.

Heck, even Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged before Friday's game how much of an impact that trade had on Boston's success, both current and past. Stevens had taken the Boston job in the immediate aftermath of the Nets and Celtics agreeing to the blockbuster swap (that would not formally be consummated until early in Stevens' tenure), and he could not have known then how important the return haul would be in aiding Boston's success.

"I do not think I realized when I came here how big [the trade] was, because it literally was happening as I was talking to [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] about coming here," Stevens said. "And I was thinking probably more of it from a standpoint of coaching a team and knowing you are losing Pierce, Garnett and those guys.

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