A. Sherrod Blakely

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.

Celtics-Bucks Takeaways: Kemba Walker powers C's as others come up short

Celtics-Bucks Takeaways: Kemba Walker powers C's as others come up short

Following Wednesday night’s home loss to the Detroit Pistons, there was a lot of talk among the Celtics players about the need to bring forth better effort against Milwaukee. 

While the effort was indeed better against the Bucks, the Celtics once again came up short in Thursday’s 128-123 loss to Milwaukee. 

Boston trailed by as many as 27 points, only to be within two possessions (127-121) with 51.1 seconds to play.

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On the ensuing Celtics possession, Boston inched closer following a Jayson Tatum dunk. 

Marcus Smart would force a turnover, but his 3-point shot moments later was off the mark which all but sealed the Celtics’ fate in their fifth loss in  their last seven games. 

The Celtics are too good to get caught up in moral victories. 

But clawing back from such a huge deficit on the road against the best team in the NBA, certainly has to be seen as one of the positives that Boston will take away from Thursday’s loss.

KEMBA WALKER

He was pretty hard on himself following the loss to Detroit on Wednesday, letting everyone know that he has to play better in order for the Celtics to be the best version of itself going forward. 

Walker was all that and then some for Boston against the Bucks, finishing with a game-high 40 points on 14-for-23 shooting in addition to grabbing 11 rebounds for his second double-double this season.

It was the kind of performance that the Celtics were hoping would set a tone that others would follow. 

But for most of Thursday’s game, Walker had very little support offensively from his teammates. 

So as much as Walker will feel as though he could have done more to help the team win, that’s just not true. 

He did exactly what the best player on the floor is supposed to do in games against the best of the best. 

But far too many of his teammates struggled at both ends of the floor which can’t happen on the road against an elite team such as the Bucks.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

His numbers to the surprise of no one, were impressive as he finished with a monster double-double of 32 points and 17 rebounds along with dishing out seven assists and blocking a couple shots. 

But what really stood out about Antetokounmpo’s play against the Celtics was the ability he has shown to pick his spots when to be uber-aggressive and when to keep the ball moving and find one of the bevvy of shooters he’s usually surrounded by when he’s on the floor. 

He’s the league’s reigning MVP and the more you watch him play, the clearer it becomes that as good as he was a year ago, he has made significant strides in his play. 

Much of the focus will center on how he’s shooting the 3-point shot better. But the real area of growth in his game, is the feel he has for how to play. 

And that’s why the Celtics, the Miami Heat, Philly … any team they face in the East will have their hands full against a Milwaukee team which is led by the best player on the planet right now who is only getting better with time. 

ROLE PLAYERS’ IMPACT

As good as Giannis Antetokounmpo was on Thursday, the players surrounding him were just as impressive. 

Donte DiVencenzo had a career-high 19 points off the bench while Khris Middleton (23 points), Brook Lopez (16 points) and George Hill off the bench (12 points) were solid as well. 

But what makes this Milwaukee team so special is that in addition to scoring from lots of different players, they also defend at an elite level. 

Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum both struggled mightily when it came to making shots, and the Bucks defense had a lot to do with that. 

Because of Antetokounmpo’s status as one of the NBA’s best players, the play of those around him gets very little fanfare. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The Bucks are indeed a championship-caliber team with the kind of depth that causes problems for most teams, the Celtics included.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begin 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.