Celtics

Kyrie Irving's response was better than the Boston Celtics' performance

Kyrie Irving's response was better than the Boston Celtics' performance

The Boston Celtics submitted another entry into their surprisingly crowded field for “worst loss of the season” on Saturday night with a double-digit defeat at the hands of a Chicago Bulls team that Boston waxed by 56 points during their last visit here earlier this season. As Kyrie Irving took his place in front of the cameras following Saturday’s head-shaking loss, he was asked where he might slot this particular mess.

“Behind me,” said Irving.

Over the course of a three-minute huddle with reporters in Chicago, Irving offered short, swagger-filled responses in which he acknowledged Boston’s woes but suggested that all will be fine by the time the playoffs arrive. Given his propensity to sometimes pour gasoline on top of combustible losses this season, this might just have been Irving’s best postgame media session of the year.

Irving’s leadership has been under the microscope and he’s admitted missteps. It felt like Saturday’s loss could have been a check-out moment for Irving and his teammates. Instead, he didn’t point fingers, he didn’t hide from the reality of Boston’s struggles, and he offered confidence-filled responses to tough questions about where the Celtics stand after another embarrassing loss.

Irving was asked if he was worried about Boston’s regular-season struggles seeping into the playoffs this year.

“No, it’ll be fine,” said Irving.

When a follow-up came asking why he felt that way, Irving said simply, “Because I’m here.”

You can certainly argue that Irving is being delusional if he believes Boston can simply flip a switch when the playoffs start. The Celtics have slipped three games behind the Indiana Pacers in the race for the No. 3 seed in the East and sit a game back of the No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers. If the season ended today, Boston’s potential path to the NBA Finals would feature starting on the road against Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Toronto — assuming all other top seeds besides Boston won out.

That’s an incredibly daunting path, one that the Celtics created with so many poor losses this season (including at home to the likes of the Knicks, Magic, Suns, Lakers, and Clippers). After Irving missed a game-winner against East-leading Milwaukee on Thursday, Saturday’s game in Chicago was supposed to be a palette-cleanser before a visit to Toronto on Tuesday night.

☘️BULLS 126, CELTICS 116

Irving acknowledged the bumps in Boston’s regular-season road but he didn’t make a bigger deal of the game than he had to. He didn’t pin the loss on Boston’s young players (Jayson Tatum started fast and went quiet; Terry Rozier had a mind-numbing net rating of minus-52.2 over 16 minutes), he didn’t suggest that the team isn’t having fun. He didn’t reveal any star players he called for help with leadership.

Irving simply talked with confidence, noting the Celtics has been competitive or beaten some of the top talent in the NBA this season. 

“I don’t get frustrated by this stuff any more,” said Irving. "It’s just part of the regular season. In the playoffs, when we plan for a team, prepare for a team, I still don’t see anybody beating us in seven games.”

Irving’s message was not one echoed throughout Boston’s locker room after Saturday’s debacle. Al Horford said the Celtics can’t just fast forward to the playoffs while Marcus Smart felt Boston’s effort level was embarrassing. Brad Stevens pinned much of the blame for the Celtics’ struggles on himself. But it still resonates that Irving, the face of the franchise, is trying to defuse the situation rather than incite it. Irving finished with a team-high 37 points on 14-of-24 shooting to go along with 10 assists.

The Celtics could use more of that from Irving on the court. And they could use more Swagger Kyrie in the locker room, too. As the bad losses pile up, Celtics players need Irving to remind them of what’s possible if this team can ever figure it all out. 

That’s what good leaders do.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Tacko Fall's agent: 'If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed'

Tacko Fall's agent: 'If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed'

Tacko Fall signed with the Boston Celtics after going undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft. And in the two months since that occurred, the 7-foot-6 center has quickly developed into a fan favorite.

After a solid performance at the Las Vegas Summer League where he showed off his excellent length and dunking and shot-blocking abilities, Fall's potential to make the Celtics' roster became a hot topic of discussion.

Though Fall was only on an Exhibit 10 deal, meaning that he wasn't guaranteed to make the roster, some thought he did enough to earn a chance to make the Celtics roster. Still, the possibility remains that the team could try to stash him with the Maine Red Claws, as they have already inked two two-way players and have at least 15 players with at least partially-guaranteed contracts on the roster.

However, if they take that path, it's possible that another team could try to claim him on waivers. And Fall's agent, Justin Haynes, thinks that a team would take a shot on Fall if the Celtics did part with him.

"If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed," said Haynes, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. "I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him."

Of course, it is worth noting that Haynes is Fall's agent, so he certainly is going to be confident about Fall's ability to make an NBA roster. But still, it does seem possible that another team could target Fall if the team did waive him, especially if they are thin at the center position.

That said, it does seem like the C's have a vision for Fall. The Celtics brass and players have had nothing but positive things to say about Fall since bringing him onboard. Danny Ainge even said developing Fall was a "high priority" back in July and said that Fall would have a chance to make the roster. 

If Fall continues to show growth and the ability to impact the game, the team will likely find a way to keep him around, whether it's by signing him to the 15-man roster or opening up a two-way slot for him.

BLAKELY: It's time to make Marcus Smart captain of the C's>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

WATCH: Belichick's classic answer to halftime question about Josh Gordon

WATCH: Belichick's classic answer to halftime question about Josh Gordon

Bill Belichick has left us with yet another hilarious interview bit.

At halftime of the New England Patriots' preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, Belichick was asked if he had anything to add to the statement he had released about Josh Gordon's return to the team. Gordon, who was reinstated by the NFL on Friday, is now eligible to join the Patriots.

However, Belichick gave a very short answer and didn't elaborate much in this comical exchange captured by Boston 25 News' Chad Amaral.

Instant classic.

In fairness, Belichick does have a point. There was a statement released earlier in the day. But given how quickly Gordon's return was announced, it was also fair to see if the coach had anything extra to add. Belichick just happened to be focused on the game, so he didn't want to talk about Gordon's reinstatement.

Gordon's addition could end up being big for the Patriots' receiving corps, so maybe Belichick will show him more love once he actually gets back onto the field.

CURRAN: Patriots are smart to manage Josh Gordon's expectations>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.