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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Celtics Talk Podcast: Difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker apparent in recent press conferences

Celtics Talk Podcast: Difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker apparent in recent press conferences

The 2019 NBA offseason has ensured that Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker will always be connected. When Irving spurned the Celtics after two seasons with the team to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Walker joined the C's and took over as their starting point guard.

The two players are similarly great scorers. They can pass the ball well and set up teammates, too. And while Irving is regarded by many as the better player in terms of skill set, there are some intangible things that Walker brings to the floor and Irving doesn't: leadership and chemistry.

And Irving and Walker's recent postgame comments after losses demonstrate that.

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On the latest episode of The Celtics Talk Podcast, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely were discussing the recent postgame interviews that the two did after rough outings and bad losses for their respective squads.

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Irving was far more focused on improving the team around him as opposed to his own poor performance. And as Blakely pointed out, it speaks to one of Irving's weaknesses as a leader.

Kyrie has yet to figure out how to make those around him better so that he can be a better winner. He is a great player. He's one of the best players in the NBA. There's absolutely no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

But he has yet to figure out how to elevate the players around him or carry himself with a level of humility that will ingratiate himself to his teammates who may not be as good as he is, but want to be great players nonetheless.

And Blakely also had one epic mic-drop moment about the former Celtic on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight."

This completely juxtaposes Blakely's thoughts on Walker, who focused more on his poor performance and how he needs to play better for the sake of the team.

Kemba, flip-side of that, he didn't play great against Detroit. Was he the worst player? In the conversation, but he didn't play bad enough to where he was clear and undeniably the worst player on the floor.

And yet all he talked about in postgame was how he's got to be better. He's got to do a better job leading. It was me, me, me for the team, team, team. And that's something that you never hear from Kyrie.

Both Blakely and Draper acknowledged that they don't always like comparing the two to each other. But in this circumstance where their postgame pressers from similar games were polar opposites, they thought it had to be done.

It just about sums up why many Boston fans were happy to see Irving walk in the offseason. And Walker's positive attitude and ability to generate team chemistry has certainly been a breath of fresh air for the Celtics faithful.

For more on the Celtics game against the Bucks, their recent skid, expectations moving forward, and potential All-Stars from the team, check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, which drops weekly as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

The Celtics have gone 17-12 since a 10-1 start. They're 4-5 in the new year and, after losing in Milwaukee on Thursday night, Boston is 7-8 against teams .500 or better.

On the latest Celtics Talk Podcast, it led Kyle Draper to ask our Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely, the inevitable question, Did a hot start make fans believe this team was better than it actually is?

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"We had the cookies on the bottom shelf in terms of expectations," was Blakely's response. "If they just did anything else other than get their heads handed to them early on [to start the season], we're like, hey, they're pretty good."

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What's behind the recent slide that seen the C's lose five of their past seven? Blakely says it's the defense. 

"When you really start looking at what's happening lately, that defense is getting exposed," Blakely said. "[Enes] Kanter has had a great season, but the law of averages says he's going to go through a stretch where he's just not going to get it done. Look at Jaylen Brown, he's had a great season, so has [Jayson] Tatum, but they're going to go through stretches where they're not getting it done. 

"The defense is not making the plays they need to that's why teams are shooting high 50's low 60's [percent] against them." 

Draper and Blakely also touch on the loss in Milwaukee and if the C's have enough to compete with the best in the East, another up-and-down season for Gordon Hayward ("We have been on this ride before," said Blakely. "Gordon [will] go out and has an 8-for-10 game. And people are going to be like, In Danny [Ainge] we trust, Gordon's great..."), Kyrie Irving's recent comments on his Nets teammates and more in the podcast, part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.