Latest posts by Colton Jones (see all)
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Kyrie Irving wanted out from under the enormous shadow cast by LeBron James.
Granted his wish Aug. 22, 2017 when Cleveland dealt him to Boston, after the Boston Celtics’ 105-103 loss at Orlando on Saturday night, Irving sounded more and more like James, his former Cavaliers teammate.
Actually, Irving’s frustration became evident before Jayson Tatum’s potential game-tying shot was taken. After Gordon Hayward inbounded the ball to Tatum, Irving, remained near midcourt, his hands in the air with palms to the sky, as the final portion of this clip shows.
Kyrie Irving didn't seem very thrilled with Gordon Hayward pic.twitter.com/oVSkSeoloX
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 13, 2019
After Tatum’s shot bounced off the rim and the Magic had secured their fourth win over the Celtics in their last five meetings, a grimacing Irving approached Hayward. In the postgame locker room, it was revealed the plan was to inbound the ball to Al Horford, with Irving then cutting from midcoast to receive a handoff or short pass.
“I think he would have liked for me to pass it to Al and have him cut off of it,” Hayward told reporters. “You know, it was late clock, and we’ve worked on that play before and I’ve seen [Tatum] hit that in practice countless times, I felt like it was a good shot.”
While Irving would not reveal what specifically irked him about the final sequence, he went into a lengthy, big-picture overview of what is plaguing Boston, which sits fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, six and half games behind the first-place Toronto Raptors, with lack of experience at the fore.
“And because of that, we have a lot of learning to do,” he said. “So we have a lot of ground to make up in that aspect. It gets tough. When it gets hard, you’ve got to think. You’ve got to do the right things. You can’t gamble and think that it’s going to be the winning play.”
Actually, Irving seemed to not agree with the play Celtics coach Brad Stevens drew up before the team even broke the huddle.
Another look at Kyrie in the huddle before Celtics' last shot.
Irving appeared to disagree with Brad Stevens' call… pic.twitter.com/GZfi6xewjD
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2019
Irving, who hit what proved to be the decisive shot in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals in the face of two-time MVP Steph Curry as a teammate of James, seemed to channel his inner LeBron, the guy whom he no longer wanted to play alongside.
“What’s the big picture? What are we doing here?” he said. “These are things I don’t think some of my teammates have faced of just every single day. It’s not easy to be great. So the things you’re doing, that you’ve done your entire career of being able to coast by in certain situations and you’ve gotten away with your youth and stuff like that, being on a championship ballclub, you can’t get away with that.”
Here’s Kyrie’s full response on the Celtics lacking experience: pic.twitter.com/MPSxczGyBY
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 13, 2019
Irving said the Celtics, a team most across the NBA landscape as the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and reach the Finals before the season tipped, are underachieving. Boston stands 25-17 headed into a game at Brooklyn (21-23) on Monday night.
“We’re better than most teams in this league,” he said. “It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it. So until we do that every single night and realize our depth is a positive, and all the wishes and could-haves and should-have-done-that, once that goes out the window, then we’ll be better.
“But until then, we’re going to keep having these ups and downs.”