All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving struggled once again as the Boston Celtics were eliminated in the second-round of the NBA playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Not even a “basketball genius” with amazing ball-handling ability could overcome a 32 percent shooting percentage in the final three games of a series Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce predicted would go the other way.
With the way Kyrie Irving and the Celtics played in Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, everyone thought the team predicted to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals in 2019 had arrived.
Yes, Pierce more than likely jinxed the team with his post-Game 1 prediction, but everyone was feeling good about the Celtics. Irving was finding ways to get his team involved while hustling on defense. Gordon Hayward was looking like the All-Star version of himself again. Al Horford made the Greek Freak look weak and the younger players made timely contributions.
More from Chowder and Champions
- 3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox
- 10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster Deadline
- MLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return
- 3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 Season
- Red Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win
All elements of a love story written well before the 2018-19 NBA season even began, a love story revisited after a four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers. Suddenly, the regular season was forgiven, and all was right throughout Celtics Nation.
But, instead, that team Boston Celtics fans started falling out of love with during an underachieving regular season but didn’t want to admit returned after the first half of Game 2. The bad habits returned, the inconsistency, the bad body language and an uninspired Kyrie Irving.
You see, like a jilted lover, fans and even NBA experts (except for Mr. Nick Wright) continued to want to love this Celtics team because when they played the right way, they looked so unbeatable. Game 1 was a classic example.
The problem throughout the season and in the second round of the playoffs is that when shots are not falling, this Boston Celtics team just didn’t have the mental toughness to overcome. When Kyrie Irving couldn’t find the heroics to be the man, the team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago without him couldn’t regain that chemistry.
The expectations simply were too much for a team predicted to win over 60 games and a player who wanted his own team so badly he forced his way out of Cleveland and away from LeBron James.
Where it all went wrong
A slow start to the regular season started it. The struggles of Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown at times during that slow stretch contributed, but Kyrie Irving and his leadership drama really set the team back.
Brad Stevens has to take some blame and he admits he did a bad job this season, but Irving’s public make up with LeBron James, his calling out of his younger teammates, and his battle with the media was too much of a distraction to avoid.
While New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans taunted Celtics fans with the “Kyrie’s leaving” chants, Irving fueled the fire by turning a preseason proclamation on his plans to re-sign with the team into a mid-season “we’ll wait and see” until free agency change of mind.
As Kyrie Irving reminded us all in his postgame comments following the Game 5 debacle to the Milwaukee Bucks, he is going to do what humans do and let it all play out in his heart. That likely means he knows deep in that heart where he wants to play. It could still be Boston if Danny Ainge finds the right pieces, but it is apparent Mr. Irving is not the leader of any team (at least right now).
In fact, he has devalued his status as a closer and has become a laughing stock of disappointment through his comments in the media. In that respect he has become a menace to NBA society. A player NBA critics and former players are criticizing. He had everything set up with the Boston Celtics. He couldn’t find a way to be what he left LeBron James to be.
Now, it’s off to an offseason in which he must rethink the type of player he is. Whether it is Anthony Davis in Boston, Kevin Durant with the Knicks or even back with LeBron James with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyrie Irving is most effective when he is a No. 2. This season certainly proved that.