OAKLAND - The Boston Celtics opened up Tuesday night’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors with an 11-0 run and never looked back, handing the defending champs their first wire-to-wire loss at Oracle Arena since March of 2006. Hours before tip-off, head coach Brad Stevens said the vibe around the team over the last few days was the best it’s been in a while. Well it certainly showed on the court last night in Boston’s 128-95 win.
When asked about Stevens’ vibe-related comment, Kyrie Irving said that Stevens was right. He spoke about how the team’s coast-to-coast flight was very helpful, and also elaborated on the lengthy conversation that he had with Stevens on said plane ride. The Celtics head coach spoke about that conversation briefly at Tuesday morning’s shootaround, and it appears that Irving agreed with how impactful it was.
“Talking with Brad was very helpful, talking with Danny was very helpful, and just expressing myself rather than keeping it all in,” said Irving. “That made it very easy to just go out and just have fun playing basketball.”
“That long plane ride helped us out. I’ll just say that,” Irving said. “That long plane ride helped us out. We needed it, we needed it. It was just we were going to get to a point where we were just going to get tired of fighting each other, fighting the outside world. And it doesn’t even really matter. So we just wanted to come out here and just play basketball. This is our sanctuary. And we have to do everything to protect it. We can’t let anybody infiltrate it.”
Irving spoke about “fighting the outside world” alongside him teammates, which would hint at some of the noise “infiltrating” Boston’s locker room and ultimately interfering with their goals and aspirations. The all-star point guard spoke about the distraction of media once again on Tuesday, saying that basketball remains the fun part of the business, while everything else is... not so fun. Irving has had an ongoing battle with this dynamic over the last few weeks, but with the help of Stevens, Ainge, and his teammates, it seems like he’s working on figuring out how to best manage it.
“It gets a little overwhelming like I said, but this is just the business I’m in,” Irving said. “The business part of it is what makes it terrible for me, honestly dealing with all this [expletive]. I’m going to be honest with you guys. The basketball part - I have to keep that fun. That’s where I’m great, that’s where I love to play and be around my teammates, that’s what makes me happy. The business part of it is going to be the business. Personal side of being out here with my teammates is the only thing that should matter. It wasn’t really a change of perspective, it was letting the guard down completely and just not thinking I’m at odds with everybody. It’s not a competition in this locker room, it’s a competition out there. That’s the most important thing.”
As Irving seems to be trending in the right direction following Sunday night’s flight to San Fransisco, so does the rest of the Celtics roster. Jaylen Brown has been stellar over the last month, and that continued with his 18-point performance on Tuesday night. He spoke about the team’s “positive changes” following the win.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Brown said. “No matter what, we have to have the same positive mentality. Everybody has to look in the mirror, and that’s what we’ve been doing. Just trying to make a positive change and add to the group.”
The vibes were great on Tuesday at Oracle Arena, but now the team busses to Sacramento for night two of their most recent back-to-back. Time will tell if they can post another solid end-to-end effort, but Brad Stevens noted that it’s nice to know they can.
“We know that we haven’t played like that enough,” said Stevens, “But it’s encouraging as a reminder that we can.”
The Celtics and Kings tip-off at 10:00 PM EST on Wednesday night.
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