Celtics fans all but had pitchforks and torches, ready to run Kyrie Irving out of town after he struggled against the Bucks and was at the heart of Boston being eliminated from the playoffs. They are not alone, one player called Irving difficult to play with. Then there was this comment from someone with the Cavaliers to Jeff Goodman of Stadium:
“Doesn’t want to listen to anybody,” a Cavs source told me about Irving. “I’ve been around more selfish guys, but when you add up those three – moody, immature and tough to coach – he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
While there is plenty of blame to go around — starting with Danny Ainge knowing he had a potentially combustible locker room — down through all the players, it was Irving that has become the focal point. He is the guy Celtics fans want to go. He is taking the most blame after a series where he shot 35.6 percent overall and 21.9 percent from three — in five games against the Bucks he scored 102 points on 104 shots.
“Bulls***. That’s bulls***,” said Smart. “Not one of us on this team knows what Kyrie’s been through. Probably a few amount of people in this world knows what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well.
“He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships, where he had to come into a situation knowing that this is a group of guys that had something going before I come here. ‘How will I fit in?’ He didn’t want to disrupt that. And that says a lot. This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about. And he’s talking about coming in and disrupting us.”
It looked like he did disrupt things, at least on the court. Irving is a great isolation player, but that took the Celtics out of the ball-and-player-movement style Brad Stevens wants, and that worked in the postseason a year ago.
Boston and Ainge have some decisions to make this summer about what kind of team they are trying to build. Irving has a decision about where he wants to play next season. Those two things may not work well together.
It’s going to be a hot summer in Boston come July.