The Boston Celtics have now lost four of their last five games against the lowly Orlando Magic, and Kyrie Irving is not thrilled. The All-Star guard is especially fed up because of how they lost on Saturday.
Trailing 105-103 with 2.9 seconds left, the Celtics were inbounding the ball from a sideline beyond halfcourt. Gordon Hayward found Jayson Tatum coming off a pick, but Tatum could only put up a contested, fall-away jumper, which clanged off the rim as time expired.
Irving was waiting around halfcourt and never touched the ball. After the game, he raised his arms in frustration and confronted Hayward, clearly upset with how the final play was executed.
Kyrie was frustrated with Gordon Hayward and Celtics' last shot 😬 pic.twitter.com/sqnaW8amkq
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2019
Familiar play call, different ending
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been one of the better tactical coaches since joining the Celtics in 2013. Boston has executed some excellent last-second plays over the years, although this one certainly won’t be one for the end-of-year highlight reel.
Still, it shared a lot of similarities to plays the Celtics have run before. In a December 2016 game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston ran the same play, but instead of passing to the player coming off the pick, they inbounded the ball to the screening Al Horford, who fed it to Isaiah Thomas, who easily drove and scored. That could have been Kyrie in Saturday’s game.
A similar play was ran earlier this season against the Phoenix Suns, when Irving ran in from beyond halfcourt, took a pass off a pick and found an open Marcus Morris for a game-tying three. Both situations involved the ball in his hands and the Celtics scoring, unlike Saturday.
This looks like what the Celtics were trying to run for a Kyrie hand off end of game there. First clip is EXACTLY the same, then earlier this season against Phoenix – little different setup. pic.twitter.com/QDJRWEeWhO
— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) January 13, 2019
It’s unclear if the plan against the Magic was to change things up and keep the ball out of Irving’s hands or if things went awry, but Irving clearly was not happy with Stevens’ play call in the huddle.
Kyrie seemed unsure of Brad Stevens' playcall on the final possession pic.twitter.com/a5ZNvboBhD
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) January 13, 2019
More frustration for Kyrie
The two losses for the Celtics against the Magic clearly hurt as they jockey for position in a surprisingly crowded East. Boston currently sits in the 5-seed at 25-17 but would be in the 4-seed and four games back of the first-place Toronto Raptors if both games went the other way.
That clearly is not good enough for the Celtics, who entered the season as favorites in the East. They may have several young players in their rotation, but expectations are rightfully sky high for a team that won 108 in the previous two years with far less talent.
“The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship level team,” Irving said after the game. “What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the Finals?”
Kyrie ended with “We can get there. We’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better. We need to win these games on the road. That’s on me as a leader. I need to be a better leader and to help get us there.”
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 13, 2019
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