True Celtics are hard-nosed, team-oriented, all-around gritty players who are willing to do things other players won’t. Diving for loose balls, taking charges, and doing whatever it takes to win. True Celtics don’t care about their individual accomplishments as much as the team goal. They are able to put their ego aside for the greater good of the team. Kyrie Irving has always been known to be somewhat of a ball hog, who just wants to get buckets. He has been critiqued for having a big ego in the past. Whether these criticisms are justified or not, he is making it clear that he can be much, much more than how he is framed by the media.
WHERE WILL KYRIE TAKE HIS GAME NOW?
The start of this season has been crazy for the Celtics. Losing Gordon Hayward on opening night was a tough pill to swallow. It seemed like Kyrie was trying to take it all on himself. The next night against the Bucks, he went 7-25, and took some downright awful shots with wide open shooters to kick to. He seemed on a solo mission at times, not yet willing to fully trust his teammates. As we know, this is not how the Celtics operate.
Thankfully, they got to settle in after opening up on a back-to-back, all while dealing with the Hayward injury. He was obviously in the game plan in the opener, and probably still was the next night against the Bucks. Understandably, the game plan on the fly was to just get our best player the ball. More importantly, he has shown progress in building trust and chemistry on the court with his new teammates.
LEARNING AS HE GOES
Since those first few games, with possessions here and there, Kyrie has been great. He has looked much more comfortable within the offense, getting guys open shots with ease, making crisp passes, taking his shots off screens rather than in isolation, and moving well without the ball. Oh, and if you didn’t know, his ability to finish at the rim is as good as anyone in the league. He hasn’t been averaging 30 points like Isaiah did last year, but I think he will start to score more as he continues to build chemistry with his new teammates.
Right now he is more concerned with making the right basketball play, and just playing the right way. We hear Brad Stevens say this all the time. It seems crazy for him to simplify such a complex game this way, but it really is that simple for him. The play of the Celtics echoes their coaches comments, and it hasn’t taken Irving long to catch on. He is doing a good job of finding everyone else, and making sure they are staying involved. When the games start to matter more, he should start to have some big games scoring the ball. Kyrie is made for the big moment, and he will step up when the time comes.
This is a big step for Kyrie. It shows he is serious about taking on this new challenge full steam ahead, and changing his game to fit what Brad Stevens, and the Celtics, want. He is already cutting out a lot of mistakes he made early. The chemistry he and Al Horford have shown has been a real treat. They are already running the pick-and-roll (or pop) close to perfection. Horford has had plenty of lobs and open threes because of this.
Perhaps even more important is the leadership he is showing for the young players. Most of the Celtics, at some point this season, have commented that Kyrie is constantly in their ear, always sharing words of encouragement and making sure everybody knows what they need to do to improve. Even better, he is putting in the work, and leading by example.
Feeling like the guy next to you has your back goes a long way for teams in any sport. This has always been the DNA of the Celtics, and Kyrie is showing that he has his teammates’ backs. When it comes to helping them improve their games on a day-to-day basis, playing unselfishly and getting everyone involved on the court, or even going after it defensively, Kyrie has been bringing it. Even on the defensive end. He is currently leading the NBA in steals with 20. He is showing his ability to sacrifice for the better of the group. Kyrie Irving is becoming a true Celtic.