Kyrie Irving‘s shooting in the Celtics’ Games 2, 3 and 4 losses to the Bucks:
- 4-18 (1-5 from beyond the arc)
- 8-22 (2-8 from beyond the arc)
- 7-22 (1-7 from beyond the arc)
When asked about the funk, Irving bristled.
“What do you mean?” Irving asked a reporter. To which his shooting stats were presented.
“Who cares?” said Irving. “I’m a basketball player. Prepare the right way. Like I said, it’s a little different when your rhythm is challenged every play down. You’re being picked up fullcourt. They’re doing things to test you. The expectations on me are going to be sky high.
“I try to utilize their aggression against them and still put my teammates in a great position, while still being aggressive. I’m trying to do it all. For me, the 22 shots, I should have shot 30. I’m that great of a shooter. I think that the consistency of just going at it, staying aggressive is always going to put us in a great position. Obviously, being more cautious on the turnovers down the stretch when they’re going on runs or managing the game better that way, I feel like I could do better, but in terms of shooting, I mean it’s the series. They’re doing a great job of loading making sure they’re putting a high emphasis on anywhere I go on the court.”
Of course, Irving’s answer to a slump is shooting his way out of it. He is capable of doing just that.
But this looks like yet another example of Irving’s poor leadership.
How do his teammates feel about Irving wanting even more shots? Does that galvanize them for tomorrow’s Game 5? How do they stand him calling himself a basketball genius, saying “I’m that great of a shooter” and then performing like this?
As Irving said, Milwaukee is bending its defense to slow him. That opens opportunities for his teammates! They’d surely like to take advantage, not just watch Irving jack more shots.
Irving playing aggressively is great, but it’s still important for him to react to what’s in front of him. A focus on his own shot total obscures the real goal of offense: Scoring as many points as possible. A team with a player as talented as Irving should score more. Plenty of the points will be directly from him, but his presence can also create a lot for teammates.
The way Irving is playing, he’s only increasing speculation about his impending free agency.