Celtics

After dismal series, Kyrie Irving sidesteps questions about future

After dismal series, Kyrie Irving sidesteps questions about future

MILWAUKEE —  Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving didn’t offer any hints about his future after his team’s season ended on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Irving, who endured one of the worst shooting stretches of his career in the final four games of a series that the Bucks took in five games, was asked what he’s looking for this summer.

"I’m going to be honest, I’m just trying to get back to Boston first, safely. See my family, decompress, do what human beings do,” he said.

Asked later if the uncertainty about his future weighed on him at all during the Bucks series, Irving twice said no before departing the podium.

Irving connected on just 25 of 83 shots (30.1 percent) in the final four games of the series, including just 5 of 27 (18.5 percent) of his 3-point attempts. Irving missed at least 14 shots in each of the final four games. He admitted the series will linger with him moving forward, though he downplayed his disappointment.

“Truth be told, it’s no time to be disappointed. You take your lessons, you take your ass-whipping that they handed us, and you move on,” said Irving. "It’s a basketball journey. Obviously, you want to keep playing but they put a halt to that. They deserved this series, they wanted it, and I’m looking forward to seeing them go to the Eastern Conference Finals and the next opponent. 

"It was a great opponent for me to play against for the rest of my career because I know I won’t forget something like this, and the taste of defeat in this type of style, being down 1-4, I haven’t felt. For me, it’s just moving on to the next thing, and just seeing where that ends up.”

How did Milwaukee bottle him up?

"Well they kept a body on me practically the whole game, then they put us in some rotations, offensively and defensively, did a great job of running their offense with pace, making us think out there,” said Irving. "And I think that’s where one of the important lessons I’m going to take from this, is just how smart our team has to be in order to be at that next level. And they did it all year. They stayed consistent, they stayed steady, they stayed relatively healthy, and like I said, I give credit where credit is due, Giannis is an unbelievable player, he’s been doing unbelievable things this year, as well as Khris [Middleton], and they fill in really well. They’re a great, well-run team. So I’m glad we got to feel this in the eyes of looking at a great team like that.”

Irving can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer. He drew headlines earlier this year when he told reporters to ask him July 1 about his future, this after expressing a desire to re-sign in Boston before the start of the season.

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Larry Bird receives lifetime achievement award at 2019 NBA Awards

Larry Bird receives lifetime achievement award at 2019 NBA Awards

The Magic-Bird rivalry had another moment in the spotlight on Monday at the 2019 NBA Awards.

Both Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson were honored with the lifetime achievement awards by the NBA.

The awards were absolutely deserved by both players. The duo reignited the Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers rivalry in the 1980s and from 1980-88, either Bird's Celtics or Johnson's Lakers were in the NBA Finals, and they squared off in three series. And in that time span, either the Celtics or Lakers captured eight of the nine NBA titles, which is absolutely remarkable.

Bird was one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. He averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game over the course of his 13-year career with the Celtics. He is top-five for the team in most major statistical categories including points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. He truly was a game changer and had many moments of greatness throughout his career.

And after his playing career was over, Bird became a very good head coach with the Indiana Pacers and later ran their front office. He won a Coach of the Year in his first season with the Pacers (1998) and also took home the NBA Executive of the Year in 2012.

Bird is simply one of the greatest basketball players, and minds, that the sport has ever seen. Between his statistical prowess, his three titles, two Finals MVPs, three NBA MVPs, and his resume as a coach and front office executive, it's easy to see why the NBA wanted to honor him. And doing it along with his long-time rival, Johnson, just made the moment sweeter for the highly accomplished and revolutionary duo.

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Marcus Smart wins NBA's Hustle Award

Marcus Smart wins NBA's Hustle Award

On a night where the Celtics weren't up for many 2018-19 NBA awards, Marcus Smart took home a prize that would have made Red Auerbach smile. 

Smart won the NBA's Hustle Award, which couldn't have been a better way to recognize his play last season and over his entire career with the Celtics. He was also named to the NBA's First All-Defensive team for the first time, and it'd be surprising if it was the last. 

Smart had the best all-around year of his career in 2018-19. After signing a four-year contract to stay with the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2014, he shot a career-high 36.4 percent from three to go along with his consistently superb defensive output.

On a team that lacked the heart and will to win in the face of adversity, Smart represented the kind of wherewithal Celtics fans hoped the rest of the roster would show night in and night out. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and it contributed to the team's ultimate demise in the second round against the Bucks. 

The Celtics came up empty handed in the marquee awards Monday night. Al Horford came in third place in the NBA's Sportsmanship Award voting. 

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