BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics have too much talent to be a 7-6 basketball team. Kyrie Irving knows this.
And so, while the Celtics certainly aren’t lacking talent across the board, Irving is of the belief that the team is lacking in experience. And he believes the team could use some outside help.
“I think it just comes with some experience,” Irving said after Sunday night’s loss in Portland. “You know, looking at this locker room, just me being in my eighth year and being a quote unquote veteran, as well as Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes. Right now I think that it would be nice if we had someone that was a 15-year vet, 14-year vet, that could just kind of help us race along the regular season and help us understand that it’s a long marathon rather than just a full-on sprint of when you want to play, when you want to do what you want to do. It’s all about attitude and effort, that’s all it is.”
It’s not entirely clear why Irving, in his eighth NBA season, does not feel as though he or Horford (12th season) is fit to take on such a role, but Irving did get into detail about what’s been going wrong with the team.
“It takes a collective effort. Until we all get on the same page like that, then we’re going to have lulls like this,” he said. “So many to blame, everybody in this locker room, for one thing or another. But I think collectively our responsibility is just to be on the right page and getting to understand that. We come out here and play, it’s not anything different than other teams playing at a higher effort level than we are. It comes to getting punched in the mouth a few times, and then we come out and clearly, we outmatch teams dang near every possession. We have a lot of good players. When I say ‘outmatch’ I mean in terms of the groups that we have out there.
“So it comes with discipline, it comes with understanding, it comes with experience of just being on a team like this. Can’t have empty possessions. So whoever’s shooting his shot, if they feel like it’s a great shot, then you know, we all have to feel comfortable with it.”
Irving leads the Celtics with 21 points per game, followed by Jayson Tatum (16.1), Marcus Morris (14.8), Horford (11.8) and Jaylen Brown (11.3). As a team, the Celtics allow the third-fewest points per game, but they rank 25th in the league in scoring with 105.2 points per game. They rank third-to-last in field-goal percentage and 16th in 3-point shooting.
Irving said that going 1-4 on a road trip can serve as a wake-up call, in a comment that sounded like it might have come from Brad Stevens.
“Experience. We needed this. We’re not as good as we think we are. That’s really what it comes down to,” Irving said. “I think I said in the beginning of the season, the excitement is just done. It’s real basketball now. So it’s not just about the potential of the team or where we’ll be at the end of the season. It’s right now and taking care of what right now is presently in front of us. And we have challenges, we have barriers to get over as a team, individually. Like I said, I’m going to be the most patient out of everyone. I’m not going to get too frazzled, too high or too low or anything like that. It’s a long season. I just understand that for us to be special, we just have to get through some challenges.”