The Boston Celtics still boast the best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. They’re 21 games over .500 and two full games ahead of the second-place Toronto Raptors.
Which is why veteran forward Al Horford raised some eyebrows Sunday afternoon with a bold comment following Boston’s 103-95 loss to the Orlando Magic.
We understand Horford’s frustration, though, as the Celtics now have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season — all of which came against mediocre opponents in the New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers and Magic.
Yet when Kyrie Irving was asked about Horford’s words, the All-Star guard — who dropped a game-high 40 points in the loss — took a different approach.
“We’ve got to hit some adversity,” Irving told reporters after the game, as aired on NBC Sports Boston. “We have to hit something. Like, we need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road, and we’ve got to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”
Irving also reminded everyone that this Celtics team had virtually no experience playing together before this season — just four C’s players from last season remain on this roster — and that Boston expected some growing pains even before Gordon Hayward went down on opening night.
“This is a group, as we’ve come together in the last four or five months, it’s new, you know what I’m saying?” Irving said. “We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow, and it’s part of the game. Part of being on a team, part of being a professional. On any team and in any environment, you’ve got to have stuff like this where you’ve got to figure it out.”
Irving endured plenty of regular season drama during his tenure with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, so he speaks from experience. Whether the Celtics can heed the words of their 25-year-old point guard as they embark on a four-game West Coast road trip remains to be seen.
Here are a few other notes from Celtics-Magic:
— The Celtics entered Sunday as one of only five NBA teams not to lose three consecutive games this season, but that list now is down to four. Needless to say, head coach Brad Stevens hasn’t been happy with Boston’s play of late.
— Horford, who tallied a team-high six assists, has racked up dimes at an impressive rate since joining the Celtics in 2016.
— Sunday’s win was a long time coming for the Magic, who had lost 14 consecutive games in Boston prior to this contest.
The last time Orlando won at TD Garden before Sunday? Nov. 20, 2009, when Jayson Tatum was just 11 years old.
— Speaking of Tatum, the Celtics rookie showed some love for another hometown team before the game, repping a New England Patriots hat ahead of the team’s AFC Championship Game clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images