Paul Pierce had to learn how to lead during his Celtics career, which is why he recognizes the struggles of Kyrie Irving.
Speaking to the Boston Herald on Monday, Pierce expressed skepticism over the Celtics’ improved play recently, and circled back to Irving as a force for unity or destruction, depending on his mood.
“It’s like they play well and you say, ‘OK, they’re back. They’re going to be a contender. You know, they can compete for a title,'” Pierce said. “Then they go back to where they were. No way they should be a 5-seed at this point.
“A lot of it, I believe, has to do with Kyrie. I think it starts with him and ends with him. I mean, he has to own up to it. He’s the guy that’s leading everything. He controls the Celtics’ destiny.
The Celtics have yo-yoed between contender and pretender all season, which is why Pierce isn’t all-in yet on this latest stretch, which includes West Coast wins over the Warriors, Kings, and Lakers.
“Yeah, they’re playing well now,” he told the Herald. “They beat two teams that probably won’t make the playoffs. But they’ve been doing this all year. They went on a, what, eight-game winning streak, then lose three in a row. Then go on a four-game winning streak and lose three in a row after that.
“I’m just waiting to see some consistency. You know, they get happy for one or two weeks and then back again. It’s just tough to find some consistency with this group on a week in week out basis.”
Pierce trained his sights on Irving, particularly as a leader.
“It’s everything — on and off the court,” Pierce said. “If he’s their leader and you see their leader doing the things he does with the media talks and sideline stuff and practice stuff, then it just kind of flows to the team. One weeks he’s happy; one week he’s this way. And that’s the way the team’s been, you know?
“I mean, if you’re going to lead, it’s got to be all the time — not just when things are good,” Pierce added. “When it’s good, he’s good. He’s happy. When it’s bad, it’s like it goes the other way.”
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Source: GreenStreet Blog