Each NBA Finals contender has a leader — someone you can point to as the face of the team — but Cris Carter doesn’t believe that’s the case for the Boston Celtics.
The Milwaukee Bucks are Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team. The Toronto Raptors are Kawhi Leonard’s team. The Philadelphia 76ers are Joel Embiid’s team. The Celtics are… Kyrie Irving’s team?
Carter explained Wednesday on FS1’s “First Things First” why he’s not willing to bestow the honor upon Irving, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent this offseason.
The Celtics are in rough shape right now, having lost three games in a row, including a 118-95 blowout defeat Tuesday night in Toronto. Irving hasn’t really helped matters, either, even though he’s been Boston’s best player this season. The six-time All-Star has called out his teammates at various points, and there continues to be lingering speculation over whether he’ll re-sign with the Celtics this summer.
Then, of course, there’s the elephant in the room: While plenty of evidence suggests the Celtics are better with Irving, rather than without him, Boston came within one win of reaching the NBA Finals last season after No. 11 went down with a knee injury. Boston is 9-2 this season when Irving doesn’t play.
Does all of this mean the Celtics are not Irving’s team, despite what the 26-year-old might think as the squad’s most accomplished individual performer? That’s the way Carter is leaning, and it’s fair to wonder whether Irving will leave this offseason if his messages aren’t well received in Boston’s locker room.
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