With expectations at an all-time high heading into the regular season, Kyrie Irving felt the pressure of taking on a new challenge when he joined the Celtics. Friday night he reminded us about the importance of team success over personal success after his team’s win over the Timberwolves.
The 32-10 Celtics not only hold the best record in the Eastern Conference but have defeated some of the league’s elite teams to get there, recently putting together wins that were anchored by team defense and a well-balanced attack on offense. Irving, who turned in one of his fewest point totals of the season (11) in the Celtics win against the Cavaliers on Wednesday, followed that up with a modest 16-point performance that was still enough for a 91-84 victory over the Timberwolves.
Scoring wasn’t the whole story, however.
Irving finished with nine assists by getting his teammates involved offensively, keying the Celtics’ pivotal fourth quarter. He controlled the tempo, while putting forth the effort on rebounding and defense, ultimately making three of his last four field goal attempts.
Irving has been a leader for this young talented group, a role he reflected on after the game. Now it’s all about the big picture.
“As a young player I used to get stuck in one game and think that this was going to be the end all, be all,” Irving explained. “If I don’t shoot well tonight then I don’t know if I’m going to make it until tomorrow, man. And that’s how maniacal I am about the game. But now it’s really about the big picture, as long as you can affect the game on the defensive end, offensive end, and put your team in a great position to win, that’s the only thing that really matters. All the other stats and everything, you can try to make important, you can, but it’ll deviate you. I’ve been there. For me, when you have this group you can’t ever lose it, can’t ever come put myself first, can’t ever do things that would be detrimental to our team’s success. That’s why I hold it.”
He also spoke on how one’s patience is tested throughout an 82-game season — something he’s learned this season in his newfound role in Boston.
“When I actually kind of had a chance to slow down and realize that patience was going to get me through these long NBA seasons,” Irving said. “I can’t necessarily pinpoint a specific point, but for me, this season has been a learning experience to be able to do that. The expectations that were brought forth on this season, that were brought forth on myself, expectations that I had, if I didn’t have that patience, then I probably would have lost it. And I can’t lose it. And I refuse to, I’m just too strong internally and mentally to do that. And then the talent on the court will do itself, as long as I put the work in every single day.”
With wins against the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Cavs, and Timberwolves, the Celtics have defeated top-tier talent throughout the span of a grueling schedule, and it looks like the patience has paid off. No other team has played 43 games up to this point. Still, Irving and the young Celtics have learned ways to squeeze out wins and have done it in dramatic fashion.
Irving is averaging 24.2 points, 5 assists and shooting 48.4 percent from the floor this season. The Celtics are riding high on a five-game winning streak and will look to make it six Saturday night against the Nets.
JBL Audio Stat of the Game: Boston has now held its opponent to less than 90 points for the ninth time this season, tied with Utah for most in the NBA.
Full article @ Celtics 91, Timberwolves 84: Kyrie Irving reflects on first year in Boston
Source: GreenStreet Blog