The solution to the Boston Celtics’ inconsistency might be hiding in plain sight.
The C’s haven’t lived up to expectations this season, prompting a pair of team meetings this weekend after Boston stumbled through a three-game losing streak. Hope is far from lost in the Celtics’ locker room, though.
Just ask Kyrie Irving, who wouldn’t reveal many details about the meetings but highlighted the importance of each player buying into his role Sunday after Boston’s 119-103 win over the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden.
?Getting past those things, the ego-centric things, this is a chance of a lifetime for us,? Irving told reporters. ?And I think that, in order to achieve what we want to, we have to be closer as a team and really understand that when someone takes a shot, it?s our shot, we feel good about it, now we get back on defense and we prepare the right way and we do the right things for one another and not just for ourselves.
“So, I?m enjoying this. Every day is a new challenge. I?m just so open to what these guys have to offer and what we can accomplish by the end of the year, because talking to you guys is boring. It?s really boring, honestly, talking about game-to-game, what we can change, what we look like and stuff like that. But the in-game for us is the big picture, understanding what the goal is and how we accomplish it. It?s an everyday thing.?
The Celtics went to the Eastern Conference finals the past two seasons — once before trading for Irving and once after — but lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in both instances. Irving, who defeated the Celtics while with the Cavs in 2017 and who missed last season’s matchup with a knee injury, is confident in Boston’s ability to get over the hump and reach the NBA Finals. He just thinks some things need to change with regards to the Celtics’ collective mindset.
?You have to really open yourself up to communicating with these guys, and them communicating with you, and telling them how they feel about their roles, and us just being open to fixing things and helping one another rather than just allowing outside influences to dictate how you feel about your role,” Irving said. ?Everybody else from the outside: ?You?re supposed to be this young, great player. You?re supposed to be averaging this.? But no one here is in the locker room except for us. So you guys don?t know what every day is like for us.
“A young guy coming in like Terry (Rozier), playing behind me. And (Jaylen Brown) and (Jayson Tatum). And Gordon (Hayward) going to the bench, and what that does mentally. And Gordon coming off an injury. Like, they talk about it, but you never know what they?re really feeling. So I?m just glad that we can have that open dialogue now where we can just figure it out and know what the big picture is.?
Irving, a five-time All-Star, is the Celtics’ most established player. He’s one of only two players on Boston’s roster with a championship ring — the other is Aron Baynes — and he’s proven capable of handling the pressure that comes with meeting lofty expectations.
The Celtics would be wise to take Irving’s advice to heart, for he’s correct about at least one thing: Boston can only go so far this season unless each player puts aside his ego for the good of the team.