The Celtics fell 105-103 in Orlando on Saturday, and they are, by their own high standards, scuffling. Boston is 25-17, only good enough for fifth in the East. It’s a real comedown for a team that came within a game of the Finals last year without two of their best players. So it’s hard to separate Kyrie Irving’s general frustration with this season from his acute frustration with the play drawn up to end last night’s game.
With 2.9 seconds left, Gordon Hayward inbounded the ball to Jayson Tatum for a baseline jumped that would have tied the game. Tatum missed, and Irving immediately went to Hayward with what looked like complaints about not getting the ball.
Indeed, Irving’s frustrations boiled over even earlier, with Brad Stevens as the coach drew up the play in the huddle.
After the game, Stevens said the play was designed to have multiple options for Hayward. Tatum was one; Irving was another.
Irving was still bereft long after the final buzzer:
When he did speak to reporters, Irving had a lot to say.
“I mean, we had nothing to lose last year,” Irving said. “We had nothing to lose, and everybody could play free and do whatever they wanted and nobody had any expectations. We were supposed to be at a certain point, we surpassed that. Young guys were supposed to be at a certain point, they surpassed that.
“We come into this season, expectations, and it’s real. Everyone from the coaching staff to the players, it’s very much real every single day, so that’s new. It’s tough. It’s hard, you know, so I think that what we’re facing now is nothing compared to being on that stage trying to get a gold trophy. It’s hard now, what do you think it’s going to be when we get to The Finals?”
And what about Irving’s reaction on the game’s final play?
“Next question,” Irving said. “JT got a good look, so let’s move on.”