Fair or unfair, Kyrie Irving has been the focal point scapegoat for everything that went wrong last year. It seems like every compliment this year’s team gets is colored with a hint of shade at last season’s squad (and specifically at Irving himself).
On one hand, I reject the notion that any one person could have been responsible for all that went wrong last year. Every player shared in the blame and from what I’ve seen everyone accepts the shared responsibility for how the team underperformed.
On the other hand, I can understand why so many of the fingers end up pointing back at Kyrie. He’s a wildly talented player who did achieve some level of success in Boston, but not to the level that his talent and his own mouth promised. In fact, between the 2018 playoffs and this season, we now have two broad strokes data sets that indicate that the Celtics are, in fact, better off without Irving.
(I’ll spare you the 5,000 words of caveats and subjective context which goes into that statement. Not to mention the necessary mea culpa I probably owe everyong for maintaining all last season that we would be better with Irving.)
Regardless, Irving has now moved on and so have the Celtics. So all that’s left is the awkward reunion scheduled for November 27th. (Note: the Celtics first have to host the Kings on Monday)
However, that reunion will have to be delayed because Iriving will not be with the team for that game.
Kyrie Irving will miss next three games, Nets day.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 23, 2019
Regardless, if you are the kind of person that wants to be there in person to express your deeply felt emotions even in Kyrie’s absence, here’s your chance. Grab yourself some tickets from our sponsor StubHub here.
Paul Pierce had some interesting comments on how the Boston fans might have received him.
Paul Pierce just said on NBA Countdown that if Kyrie plays in Boston next week he'll be received with "One of the loudest boos in league history."— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) November 23, 2019
Just watched Paul Pierce (ESPN) on the press room TV in Denver. He said no other player of Kyrie's caliber has ever said he was coming back to a team and then left, and he made the case he should be booed when/if he's back in the Garden next Wednesday. Pierce: "He deserves it."— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) November 23, 2019
As for the matchup itself, both teams will likely be without their star point guards. Kemba Walker suffered a scary head injury Friday night and is being evaluated.
The Celtics have started off with one of the best records in the league but just finished a rough road trip. The Nets have won their last two games but have largely struggled this year, specifically on defense.
via SBNation (stats are from Nov. 19)
Of the four most-used five-man rotations the Nets have deployed, none is playing well on the defensive end. The Nets’ starting lineup (Irving, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen) has played 97 minutes together, and is allowing 111.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s better than the team as a whole, but would still only rank as the 16th-best team rate in the NBA. That’s bad for a group of your supposed best players.
Even without the star point guards, it should be an interesting matchup.
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.