For much of this season Kyrie Irving has cut a frustrated figure. The Boston Celtics were supposed to be automatic favorites for the Easter Conference Championship and some were even brave enough to call these Celtics as possible Warrior beaters. And it wasn’t the most illogical thing either.
Boston had just been a few insane LeBron James plays away from becoming the Eastern Conference Champions. This was done without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Their two biggest off season acquisitions that were supposed to bring back glory to the Celts.
Calling the Celtics the best team in the East is now a laughable idea. They languish in the 5th place. A whole 3 games back of the Indiana Pacers who have played a significant portion of the year without their only All-Star Victor Oladipo.
The Celtics have generally shown up against the tougher opponents as the hold a 3-0 record over the Sixers, 2-2 (including today’s loss) against the Raptors, they are 1-2 against the Bucks though.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 27, 2019
Marcus Smart is absolutely right. The #Celtics aren’t playing together.
— John Amichetti Jr. (@JohnAmichettiJr) February 27, 2019
It’s the supposed easier games that have proven to be a problem for the Celtics. Getting blown out by the Bulls? THE BULLS? In the middle of all this inconsistency, a storm is brewing. A storm named Kyrie Irving.
Kyrie Irving comes from the Kobe Bryant school of leadership. Where you work harder than anyone, play better than anyone and you scream about it and hope they see it as inspiration and not insult.
Problem is Kyrie is too polarizing a figure to be a Kobe sort of a leader. He started the season with a verbal confirmation that he wanted to be a Celtic for life. Made a video about wanting to see his jersey on the rafters. And now he has gone to not owing anyone sh*t.
Kyrie has had a unique career trajectory in the NBA. He played for the Cavs in the first half of his career and while he never had problems putting up numbers or racking up highlight reel moves, the team never actually won anything until LeBron James showed up.
After making 3 consecutive trips to the NBA finals and winning one of them, Kyrie did not want to play with James anymore. So he moved to the Celtics in one of the most lopsided deals of all time. But in Celtic Kyrie has done nothing to prove that the discord with James was James’ fault.
Kyrie this season has been raging constantly about the young members on the team and their work ethic or their level of engagement. But Kyrie himself hasn’t been so hot for the Celtics.
In fact if you look at just the last 5 games that Kyrie has played. The Celtics have dropped every single one of them. Their record without Kyrie in the team over the last 6 games? 6-0.
Their entire season reflects a record much better when Kyrie is not playing. In fact the best stretch of play shown by each one of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart came in the playoffs last year when Kyrie was out due to injury.
Now, Marcus Smart has pointed out that Celtics are maybe just not together and are not playing as a team.
“What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together,” Smart said.
“And that’s it. We’re just not together. Plain and simple. That’s it. Because if we were together, that wouldn’t happen. We’re all talking and linking up, but like I said, it’s something we’re going through, and it’s something we’re going to have to continue to work at and figure it out.” he added.
Kyrie Irving has responded to this criticism from Smart. Kyrie himself had questioned the mentality of the Celtics players earlier in the season.
“That’s Marcus’ opinion,” Irving said.
“I respect it.” he added.
Kyrie Irving wasn’t into sharing an answer elaborate response to Brad Stevens saying Celtics are trying to take “shortcuts,” and Marcus Morris saying the team isn’t playing together. pic.twitter.com/Kt4NKYS861
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) February 27, 2019
Their season record with Kyrie stands at 28-22 good for a 46 win pace. That is a number the Brooklyn Nets are aspiring to this season. A far cry from the Eastern Conference power house that Boston was being claimed as. The Boston record without Kyrie? 9-2.
Given all the turbulence Kyrie has created, along with his refusal to commit long term and the uncertainty regarding Anthony Davis and his trade, is it wiser for Boston to start looking at its promising young core as the way forward instead of Kyrie Irving?
It’s another story that will unfold in the summer, which promises to be set to become the offseason that will produce the highest NBA drama ever seen in the league.