Every now and then special performances grace the AAU circuit, be it an individual prospect or a team. On Saturday at the Showcase in Orlando, Florida there was such a performance. The New Jersey Celtics aided by the addition of Kyrie Irving are the talk of the tournament after playing giant killer.
The Celtics took on mighty All Ohio Red and Team Final in back to back games. New Jersey defeated Ohio led by Jared Sullinger and Adrian Payne behind a gutsy team effort. Just a couple of hours later, in marched Team Final led by the likes of Michael Gilchrist and Dion Waiters. Guess what? They went down to.
In the span of a few hours, the New Jersey Celtics knocked off the two most consistent and or best teams in AAU ball this season. The Celtics are made of St. Patrick's players, a high school power coached by Kevin Boyle. However, the Celtics did not have all of his players. Missing was Michael Gilchrist who happens to be the top rated player in the class of 2011.
In short, the Celtics would have been installed as a large double-digit underdog if that kind of thing happened at this level. Thus the reason why fans started to pack the gym as word spread that they were on the verge of pulling their second straight upset. As one person said, a fire marshall would have cleared the area from not just fans but refs who stopped in after calling other games.
It looked as if Team Final would pull away early, but after going down nine points, a Celtics timeout righted the ship. As is the case in all great games, scripting the outcome would have been impossible and for those who saw this game it was a special treat which would pump the blood of any basketball fan.
A quick look on the sidelines showed a who's who in the major college coaching ranks. Duke was represented by Chris Collins while Coach K is in Vegas with Team USA. He was flanked by Oklahoma's Jeff Capel and Roshown McCleod. Not far from them were Roy Williams and Billy Donovan and John Calipari of UNC ,Florida and Kentucky respectively. They were but a few well-recognized figures which would take in the game.
Many were there to see Michael Gilchrist and loaded Team Final, but some were also there to see Kyrie Irving a player Duke, Indiana and Kentucky are battling over. In the end, it would be Irving and a coaches son that stole the show and they did so in style.
It was clear that the Celtics would live by the three or die by it and a few missed shots put them in a hole which they closed to five in the first half. A the game progressed the Devils hung in and gained confidence cutting the lead to two on an Irving deuce late in the third 49-47.
That is when the Kyrie Irving Show started. Irving stole the ball and went coast to coast to tie the game. Just after that he drove the baseline and put his team up three on a three-point play. Then on another Team Final miss he drove in for a floater was fouled hit both shots and the Celtics took a 52-47 lead as their sideline erupted.
Gilchrist stopped the slide with a power move and basket, but then Irving made the play of the game. As he drove the baseline he put a spins move breaking the legs of two defenders rolling perfectly to the basket for a lay in to the oohs of the entire gym. Coaches were looking at one another and testing away, eyebrows raised at the play.
Team Final put together a run and took the lead but Irving then drove the baseline for a thunderous dunk and Final answered once again with a Waiters two. Irving once again had the ball and was fouled by Gilchrist draining both shots. Before you could blink he was at the line again hitting each shot. This is where I will fast forward ahead for a moment to let you know he ended the contest going 20 of 20 from the free throw stripe.
Waiters then got hot and put together 4 of his 11 points and the poised Team Final would not go away. The last Waiters bucket put his team up 3 points. The Celtic's then missed and Gilchrist got the ball in a clear out but Irving stole the ball from his high school teammate drove the court hit the deuce and was fouled and he of course hit the shot. Then there was another Rakeem Christmas bucket.
As the dust from the flurry of play was clearing, Team Final called timeout holding a three point edge with seconds left seemingly having the game in hand. Enter Kevin Boyle Jr. Boyle who ended the game with 28 points nailed a three point shot from about six feet in from half court to send the game to overtime as the electricity from the entertaining game rolled through he veins of all watching.
With he Celtics up one, Waiters then hit a dagger of a three giving his team a 75-73 edge, but Kevin Boyle Jr. would hit one of his six three pointers as he took over and before you could look. From that point on, it was apparent that the Celtics would be the talk of the evening and tournament no matter the champion.
Irving closed the game out hitting two free throws and in the end Irving showed why he is the real deal finishing with 37 points. BDN talked with Irving after the game and that interview will appear on our premium message board with all of the updates from Orlando and Las Vegas.