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Mitch's Sports Report: Irving Takes Over Overtime As Celtics Run Winning Streak To Sixteen

With a sixteen game winning streak on the verge of being extinguished, the Boston Celtics turned to their new star acquisition to keep the flame lit.

Kyrie Irving, still wearing a plastic mask to shield a minor facial fracture, turned in his most impressive performance to date in a Celtic uniform, scoring ten of his season high 47 points in overtime to lift Boston to a 110-102 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Texas last night.

One of the reasons I initially scoffed at the trade that sent Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland for Irving was IT's astonishing ability to elevate his game to a higher level in the fourth quarter, but Irving did just that, rallying the Celtics from a 13-point deficit with less than eight minutes left in regulation to force the overtime period. He then scored the first six points for Boston to put the game away and run the winning streak to sixteen, the fourth longest in franchise history for the Celtics, which is sort of amazing itself, but helps explain why there are seventeen World Championship banners hanging in the Garden.

The most dramatic play of the game came with about a minute to go in regulation when Irving lofted an alley-oop pass to Jaylen Brown, who directed the ball to the rim where it hung in suspended animation for a full second that felt like a minute before falling through to tie the score. Brown continued his fantastic sophomore season with 22 points, but one note of caution for the winning streak if it's to equal the number of those aforementioned banners: The last three Celtic victories have been engineered via the comeback, with the team needing to chip away at double digit deficits before getting the win. It's something coach Brad Stevens has lamented, wanting his team to play with the lead instead, and you can only go to the comeback well so many times before it runs dry. It's also true that the Mavericks team the Celts beat last night has but three wins on the season. The counter argument to that is the comeback win against Golden State, the defending NBA champs, and ultimately a win is a win is a win, and the Celtics have put together sixteen of those in a row, as the Kyrie Irving trade I was so disdainful of when it was announced increasingly proves to be a Danny Ainge coup.

To the NHL, and you'd think that a streaking Toronto Maple Leafs team that had won six in a row and was skating at home against the team with the league's worst record would push that win streak to seven. On paper it looked like a lock, but on the ice, the Arizona Coyotes picked it, dropping a 4-1 loss on Toronto for just their fifth win of the season. Leafs coach Mike Babcock summed it up nicely after the game, noting his team's sluggish start to the contest, saying "When you don't start on time, you don't deserve good results and we got what we deserved." Toronto missed a chance to match its longest winning streak since 2003 and after dropping 18 of their first twenty games, the Coyotes see a glimmer of hope, now having won three in a row.

To the NFL, and amid all the drama and controversy about players exercising their first amendment rights, with theories that protests of kneeling during the National Anthem have led to lower attendance and TV ratings for the league, it must be noted that at least part of the reason for the dip is that a lot of the games this season just haven't been competitive. Blow-outs have been prevalent and there's not much reason to stay tuned to watch a team run up a score on another, even if you're a fan of the team doing the routing. But last night's contest between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks bucked that trend, with a down to the wire thriller that ended in Atlanta's favor when Seattle kicker Blair Walsh tried and missed on a 52-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game with two seconds left on the clock, handing the Falcons a 34-31 win in Seattle.

The Falcons looked like they'd run away with this one, pushing their lead to 21-7 when Adrian Clayborn picked up a Seahawks fumble and returned it ten yards for a touchdown, but Seattle staged a late rally trailing by eleven with three minutes to go when Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a touchdown, but the Walsh's long field goal attempt didn't have quite the distance it needed to send the game to overtime. Both teams now have 6-4 records.

And let me just give a shout-out to fans of the Philadelphia Eagles who may reside in our VPR listening region. The Eagles--or as my college roommate from Philadelphia would pronounce the name--the Iggles, currently sit with the best record in the league at 9-1. I got an email from a dedicated Iggles fan who desperately wants the sports report to start paying attention that team's fortunes moving forward, and I promise that it will.

Philadelphia sports fans are among the most passionate, and it must be said, belligerent, forever enshrined in the cantankerous fan Hall of Fame for having pelted Santa Claus with snowballs at a home game, but they have suffered and maintained their loyalty for decades despite their team never having won a Superbowl. With Carson Wentz having a career year at quarterback this season, though, they have their best shot in years at finally getting that championship. If they end up facing the Patriots in the superbowl, though, I'll wager a cheese steak from Pat's that the Pats from New England will come out on top, but hey, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Still a lot of football to be played before we talk about the big game.

Finally, the Women's World Cup of Skiing takes place at Killington this weekend with slalom and giant slalom events, and the Nordic ski season has begun. St. Michael's College opened its season with an un-scored time trial against Laval University.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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