BOSTON (CBS) — Things are bad right now for the Boston Celtics, owners of a four-game losing streak, which is their longest of the season. But that hardly matters for Kyrie Irving.
Irving, who had 31 points in the losing effort Wednesday at home against the Trail Blazers, told reporters that he’s just looking forward to the postseason. And though the Celtics may have lost all hope of climbing into a top spot in the Eastern Conference, that shouldn’t matter come playoff time if the Celtics are playing the way they’re capable of playing.
“You can’t worry about the standings now. It’s too late in the season,” Irving said after the 97-92 loss to Portland. “I mean, obviously the four or five spot, but one and two is pretty much locked up, 1-2-3. So, as long we get there. I can’t wait for all this other B.S. about the regular season and keep getting better and talking over and over and over again about what we can do to keep getting better in the regular season. I just want to be at the highest level playing. I mean, that’s what I’m here for.”
Irving, who of course won a championship with Cleveland back in 2016, said that he’s been through some losing streaks in his career. Those tough stretches have not doomed the season, though.
“It’s part of the NBA season. You never know,” Irving said of the skid. “I’ve been a part of two organizations, one where I was in Cleveland in 2017 where we’re down the stretch and we lose a bunch of games in a row. And we end up sweeping the whole Eastern Conference. I don’t think anybody in the Eastern Conference can really compete with us at a high level when we’re playing the way we’re supposed to be playing.”
Still, with a 37-25 record, Irving said the Celtics are going to have get better — and tougher — as the challenges get more difficult down the final stretch of the regular season.
“We need to win road games, we need to compete at a very high level, whether at home or on the road. It takes a very, very high level of IQ of basketball to play against great teams in this league and win a championship or even compete for one,” Irving said. “You see the competition that we’re going against, those are great guys around the league that are led by young superstars, some old veteran groups. They’re going to test you mentally, and they’re going to test how tough you are. And you’ve gotta be able to respond.
“I think we’re in that phase now where the last 22 games, it gets harder. That’s just the NBA. … You have to be ready for that, of people going at your chest and really testing your pride at both ends of the floor.”
Irving was then asked what his confidence level is in the Celtics going forward. It was not a question he particularly liked.
“Huh?” Irving said, prompting a repeat of the question. “What do you mean? What kind of question is that?”
When the reporter informed Irving that he believed it to be a legitimate question, Irving responded, “Nah. Next question.”
Irving and the Celtics will get their next change to try to prove their toughness on Friday night at home against the 25-36 Wizards. The C’s will then host the Rockets on Sunday before traveling to Golden State on Tuesday night to face the defending champs.