Following the Boston Celtics’ close 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday, Kyrie Irving spoke to reporters and called out his younger teammates for their lack of experience, adding that the Celtics cannot be content with their current standing as the fifth-ranked team in the Eastern Conference.
“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team. What it takes every day,” Irving said, as quoted by Complex.
“They think it’s hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”
Prior to the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Boston Celtics were considered one of the top favorites to lead the way in the Eastern Conference. However, Complex wrote that the team has mostly failed to live up to these expectations, currently sitting at fifth place in the East with a 25-17 record and having suffered two straight losses. As further noted, Irving appears “clearly irritated” by the Celtics’ inability to live up to their potential, given his previous championship credentials as part of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to a separate report from ESPN, Kyrie Irving spoke from experience as he stressed how the Celtics need to focus on the “little things” if they want to reach the NBA Finals.
“I know from the majority of fact that we’re better than most teams in this league,” Irving continued. “It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it.”
The ESPN report also cited a few recent incidents where some of the Boston Celtics’ younger mainstays appeared to be in the middle of the alleged friction and chemistry issues within the team. During Thursday’s 115-99 loss to the Miami Heat, third-year wingman Jaylen Brown reportedly had a “brief altercation” with veteran forward Marcus Morris, while two days later against the Magic, second-year forward Jayson Tatum missed a potential game-tying jumper with less than three seconds remaining in the game.
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) January 13, 2019
When asked by reporters about the latter play, Irving chose not to comment much on the matter, though ESPN noted that the 26-year-old point guard seemed more “frustrated” with Gordon Hayward, who inbounded the ball to Tatum during that final play.
“Next question. [Tatum] got a good look [from Hayward], so let’s move on.”
After acknowledging that the Celtics went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last year because they had no serious expectations to deal with, Kyrie Irving wrapped up his postgame interview by admitting that it’s much harder this season, given their pre-season status as Eastern Conference favorites.
“We can’t be comfortable being a fifth [seed]. I’m not comfortable with it,” Irving concluded.