How OKC Thunder strategy may have led to costly Kyrie Irving 5-point play for Celtics

The Boston Celtics continued their remarkable winning streak Friday night, stretching it to seven games with an 18-point comeback on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Leading the way was Kyrie Irving, who scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter alone.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game came from Irving with a little over four minutes remaining. After getting fouled on a 3-pointer, Irving stepped to the line to complete the four-point play. Instead, his free throw ricocheted off the back of the rim and straight back to him. Before the Thunder knew what was happening, Irving put in a layup to turn it into a five-point play.

The five-point possession pushed the Celtics’ lead from one point to six points, and they never trailed again, holding on for an impressive victory that improved their league-best record to 7-2.

At first, you might just think, “ah, bad luck for the Thunder.” A fluky offensive rebound really cost them in a close game. However, upon further inspection, it might not have been so fluky, after all. Yes, it was an unfortunate bounce straight back to Irving, but OKC’s strategy on free throw rebounds was also partially to blame.

During Russell Westbrook’s triple-double campaign last season, one

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