The Boston Celtics will head to Milwaukee on Wednesday night needing a win to keep their season alive after the Bucks rattled off a third straight win to go up 3-1 in their Eastern Conference Semifinals series.
After a convincing Game 1 win, the Celtics have been unable to replicate that performance on either end of the floor in the next three games as Milwaukee has made necessary adjustments and once again looks like a juggernaut in the East. A big reason for Boston’s losing streak is poor shooting as a team — 40.1% from the field and 32.1% from three-point range over the last three games — but the focus is on Kyrie Irving’s inefficiency in particular.
Irving is 19-for-62 in the three losses, culminating in a 7-for-22 night in Game 4, and afterwards he said he should’ve shot the ball 30 times, while also asking “who cares?” As Shaq and Charles Barkley explained on Inside the NBA, lots of people care, and that’s the territory that comes from being a superstar. Even if Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, and every other Celtic struggle shooting, Irving’s issues will lead the headlines, which as Chuck explained, is exactly what he asked for when he left the Cavs and LeBron to be “The Man.”
“He wanted that — I don’t want to share the limelight with LeBron. I want my own team. Now this is the price you pay. I always tell people, no one says, ‘Man, Mark West didn’t win a championship. Ced Ceballos didn’t win a championship.’ And I love those guys, but it’s ‘Charles Barkley didn’t win a championship.’ That’s the way it is, and that’s what Kyrie, he says, ‘I want to be my own man.’ And now you your own man, going on vacation Thursday morning, 8 a.m.”
It’s clear Shaq and Chuck are a bit annoyed by Irving’s apparent frustration with the attention paid to his performance, when this is the thing he asked for in leaving LeBron’s side. Yes, next to LeBron he was never going to get the credit he maybe deserved for that 2016 title or anything else they did, but he also had a shield for at least some of the blame. Now, he’s the lone All-NBA player and while there are plenty of people you can point to for why Boston is down 3-1 (including the fact that Milwaukee is simply the better team), Irving not playing well is going to be the first thing discussed.