DALLAS, Texas – It may be panic time for the city of Boston, as the Celtics come up short to the Portland Trail Blazers 100-94 at the Moda Center Arena Sunday night.
Damian Lillard had 19 points and 12 assists while Jusuf Nurkic added 18 points and 17 rebounds. The Blazers have won seven of their last eight games. As for the Celtics, they have suffered their fourth loss out of their last five meetings against playoff-caliber opponents.
One month into the NBA season, the Boston Celtics, who were widely considered an Eastern Conference Finals favorite, have a 7-6 record, tied with the Charlotte Hornets. And the team is starting to sense something’s off. Following the game, Irving who contributed 21 points in 32 minutes had a few choice words for the media:
“We’re not as good as we think we are,” said Irving. “That’s what it comes down to. Right now I think it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year veteran or a 14-year veteran that could kind of help us race along the regular season and understand it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint,” per sbnation.com.
Irving’s quote could mean everything or nothing – but if you’re a Celtics fan, you may feel somewhat offended by his comments. Let’s keep in mind that this is the same guy who left a 16-year vet and 3x NBA champion in LeBron James because he no longer wanted to be in his shadows. Fair enough, right? He decided to join a young Boston team where he could be his own man and ultimately the #1 guy. Now that Kyrie has experienced the difficulties on being the heart and soul of a team, he may be crying out for help. He’s playing alongside a 12-year vet Al Hordford, that’s two years off from his benchmark of 14 or 15 that can’t possibly make a huge difference. Kyrie did slightly mention Hordford and Baynes leading up to his comment as if their 12-year and 7-year experience didn’t really matter.
The last time I checked, Kyrie is the only player on this current roster who’s been to an NBA Finals and won. So, if we truly want to analyze the situation in Boston, who needs to be that veteran leader to remind his team that it’s a marathon and not a sprint? It’s Kyrie. Because he’s the only person on this team who’s completed the full marathon successfully. Typically, when you have a roster full of young players they are going to want to sprint because that’s all that they know.
Irving has to understand that he’s playing with the 12th youngest team at an average age of 25. It’s no secret that they’ve gotten off to a rocky 7-6 start. However, this is the same young team that last season defeated the Milwaukee Bucks (round 1), the 76ers (semifinals) and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated in game-7 by LeBron James and the Cavaliers – and they were able to advance that far without the help from their All-Star PG. Clearly Kyrie is not dealing with an untalented young team; most sports experts predicted this year’s Celtics team to advance to the NBA Finals, especially if Kyrie can remain healthy for the entire season. And some may still feel that way, but does Kyrie?
Can the Celtics turn things around?
What is Irving truly searching for? What does a 14 or 15-year veteran have that the guys on this current roster don’t have? Because you find guys with a 10+ year-career and no playoffs experience. Just ask the Dallas Mavericks. Going out to find veteran guys to rally up your locker room is not what it’s all cracked up to be. It’s a waste of time, space and money.
Luckily, the schedule gets a bit easier towards the end of November for the Celtics. Out of 10 games, four of them are against some of the league’s worst teams: the Bulls, Knicks, Mavericks and Hawks. Hopefully at that point, head coach Brad Stevens can make the right adjustments to get this contending roster back on track. Because the current vibe coming from their All-Star leader is suggesting that the train in Beantown may collide sooner rather than later. To stay up to date on all things Celtics and more, be sure to subscribe to You Can Argue That Sports and receive notifications of new posts and podcasts by email.