Kyrie or No Kyrie? That is the Question.


A disappointing season came to a disappointing, yet fitting, end Wednesday night in Milwaukee.  The Boston Celtics began the season with high (and looking back now, perhaps unreasonable) expectations, and it ended earlier than expected as the Milwaukee Bucks steamrolled them in five games. 

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After five straight wins to open the postseason, people were optimistic that the regular season was an afterthought.  However, four games later, the season came to a crashing halt, and all of the issues from the regular season returned. 

When things went south on the floor, the team went its separate ways.  They no longer played together, opting for hero ball on offense, and no-showing on defense.  Defensive effort was never a question with a Brad Stevens coached team, until this season. 

Milwaukee was clearly the superior team.  There’s a reason they won 60 games during the regular season.  However, I can't help but wonder what the series would have looked like had the Celtics simply made shots.  They had tons of open looks, but couldn't get them to fall consistently.  Yet, that didn't discourage them from taking them.
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Which was another issue.  This team refused to attack the basket.  It's why they were second to last in the league in free throws attempted per game during the regular season.  They were one of only two teams to get to the line less than 20 times per game.  They never adjusted.  Whether the jumpers were falling or not, they kept attempting them.  They weren't falling against the Bucks, and they paid the price.

Now the Celtics enter an off-season that will be crucial in determining the future direction of this team.  I don't see any scenario where Danny Ainge tries to run it back with this same team, which leaves him with two options.  Bring back Kyrie, make a run at Anthony Davis and hope the two of them and Gordon Hayward can figure out how to play together.  Or, let Kyrie walk and commit to building around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Give me option 2 please.  Sure, you can re-sign Irving, and trade for Davis.  There's no guarantee it works out, though.  If it doesn't, that sets the Celtics back.  Stevens admitted this year was the most challenging of his career, and I think it had to do with managing the talent around him.  Irving was an established superstar, something Stevens had yet to deal with in his time in the NBA.  Now, you're going to try and add another superstar in Davis?  That's asking for trouble.

Stevens is much more effective with a core of young and hungry players.  Guys who are playing with something to prove.  As weird as it is to say, I think building around two guys who have been in the league a combined five years would be the more reliable route for Boston to take.

Two postseasons ago, we saw what this team was capable of when Tatum and Brown were the focal points.  They played with freedom and aggression.  They didn't have to worry about what Irving would think.  There was no pressure, no expectations.  It felt like they were playing on eggshells at times this year.

Irving is the most talented individual on the roster, no question.  I know it was only one season, but he managed to turn almost an entire fanbase against him.  While I don't hate Irving like many other Celtics fans do, I wouldn't miss him if he left.  He seems to be getting the lion's share of the criticism for the way the season ended; and in all fairness, he did bring it upon himself.

On numerous occasions during the regular season, Irving brushed off the team's struggles; indicating that as long as he was on the floor, they would be fine.  You can't say things like that, and then go out and play the way he did against Milwaukee.  While there were several reasons things went the way they did, Irving is at the top of the list.

Moving on from Irving would not cripple this team by any means.  They are still a playoff-caliber team.  Are they a championship contender?  Maybe not right away; but turning the team over to Brown and Tatum is only going to help them mature and improve quicker.

Turn the team over to Tatum and Brown.  Bring back Horford, and try to bring back Morris.  You still have Smart and Hayward.  You'd still need to add a couple of pieces; and I've got some ideas on who to target...but that's for another time.

Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Kyrie or No Kyrie? That is the Question.
Kyrie or No Kyrie? That is the Question.
Boston Sports Syndicate
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