It’ll be fascinating to see how both the Celtics and Nets perform this season with Kyrie Irving leaving Boston for Brooklyn in free agency.
Irving, deservedly or not, received most of the blame for Boston failing to meet expectations in 2018-19, but his arrival in Brooklyn marks a fresh start for both him and the Celtics, who agreed to a four-year, $141 million max contract with fellow All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.
As such, Nick Wright has some advice — or goals — for Irving, which the FOX Sports 1’s talking head shared Tuesday on “First Things First” while breaking down Brooklyn’s chances of contending in 2019-20 if Kevin Durant misses most of the season with an Achilles injury, as expected.
“Home court matters in this league. So for Kyrie Irving — after last year saying, ‘I’m just focused on the playoffs, just wait, get me to the playoffs’ — here would be something, if I were one of Kyrie’s close advisers, I’d say to him. Here should be one of your goals: ‘Be better than Boston. Beat Boston,'” Wright said. “Boston had 49 wins with you, Brooklyn had 42 wins without you. Are you worth four wins in this league? Is Boston going to take four wins back? Are you going to go four wins forward? Then you’ll be ahead of them. Can you get to that four-line so that it’s a home playoff series in Brooklyn, to where if KD comes back, now all of a sudden, what one-seed wants to face Kevin Durant, if he were to come back, with Kyrie Irving?
“So those to me are tangible goals, and then culture-wise, set a tone that’s so different. … Whatever Kyrie would’ve done last year, do the opposite.”
The Celtics finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 49-33 record, good enough for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. They swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs but fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the second round.
The Nets are coming off a season in which they went 42-40 en route to nabbing the No. 6 seed. It was a step in the right direction for an organization having endured four straight losing seasons, including three especially disastrous campaigns, but expectations will be different moving forward, and Irving’s handling of the situation could go a long way toward determining Brooklyn’s success (or lack thereof).
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images