Kyrie Irving tried to send his younger teammates a message following the Boston Celtics’ loss to the Orland Magic on Saturday, but it might not have had the intended effect.
Playing without Irving (quad contusion) and Marcus Smart (illness) on Monday, the Celtics couldn’t overcome a sloppy third quarter in an uninspiring 109-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets that saw the C’s trail by 27 at one point.
As for Irving’s message to the now 25-18 Celtics, it might not have been received well by everyone in the locker room.
Jaylen Brown, who scored 22 points in the loss, was asked after the game what the C’s talked about after the defeat in Brooklyn, and he appeared to take a slight jab at Irving, who has pointed the finger at the young players’ toughness and inability to play with the high expectations throughout the season.
“We gotta be more accountable as a group,” Brown said, via CLNS. “It’s not one guy. It’s not the young guys’ or the old guys’ fault — it’s everybody’s fault. We all got to be accountable and turn this thing around. In stretches we play good basketball and in stretches we don’t. But we all got to have each other’s back.
“We just got to have each other’s back at the end of the day,” Brown continued. “We can’t make comments. We can’t be pointing fingers. We just got to continue to empower each other and have each other’s back. If we don’t and people start pointing fingers, everybody’s going to go into their own little shell. We got to continue to play basketball and it starts from the top to the bottom, not from the bottom to the top but from the top to the bottom, so we got to continue to empower each other and make the best of this. We got a lot of talent here. We know what we are capable of, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
(Insert eyeballs emoji here.)
To Irving’s credit, he also pointed the finger at himself in his Saturday comments, noting he needs to be a better leader to the young guys.
Perhaps Brown’s comments were born out of frustration of what has been a disappointing season for him to this point. The third-year guard started the season with expectations of making another leap, but he was sent to the bench after Boston’s slow start to the season and has struggled to find consistency in his role alongside Boston’s bevy of talented wings.
Another one of Boston’s young stars had a slightly different take on Irving’s comments.
“It’s not really directed towards anybody or calling guys out,” Jayson Tatum said, via The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “He’s telling the truth. He knows what it takes to win a championship and most of us don’t. And sometimes you gotta be brutally honest in this profession to get the best of one another. If it comes from a good place, it’s not trying to bring anybody down.”
Irving clarified his comments earlier Monday, saying they came from a deep desire to win and not from a source of frustration with his teammates.
Boston will need to snap out of its funk as the C’s return home Wednesday to face the first-place Toronto Raptors in a game that could have big playoff implications down the line.