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Messy Celtics getting reprieve thanks to Patriots: Picard - Metro US

Messy Celtics getting reprieve thanks to Patriots: Picard

Kyrie Irving. (Photo: Getty Images)

If anybody should be pulling for the New England Patriots to win Sunday’s AFC Championship and extend their season to Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, it’s Brad Stevens.

The Boston Celtics coach could use a couple more weeks to fix the mess he has on his hands at the moment.

Perhaps all this Celtics drama has flown right over most people’s heads in recent weeks, thanks to heavy interest in the Patriots’ playoff run. Well, I’m not just here to get you up to speed. I’m also here to serve as a reminder that Stevens and the rest of his staff are getting off easy, mainly because the spotlight in New England is somewhere else. And if the Celtics don’t fix their issues soon, then there’s going to be a storm coming. 

Right now, that storm is getting ready for a pretty big football game in Kansas City. Had there not been a Divisional Round playoff game this past Sunday in Foxboro, there would’ve been a media response that this group of Celtics has never seen, following the events that took place on Saturday night in Orlando.

The C’s lost to the Magic, 105-103. They had the last possession of the game, with 2.9 seconds left. Stevens called for a timeout so that he could draw up a play, down two points. As the timeout ended, Irving expressed frustration with the play Stevens had drawn up, all while Stevens was still holding the whiteboard. 

Hayward inbounded the ball from in front of the Celtics’ bench, sending it down to the baseline, where Jayson Tatum missed a turnaround jumper. The game was over. But the undeniable drama wasn’t.

Irving was standing out near midcourt as the entire play developed. When the final buzzer sounded and the Celtics’ loss to the Magic was official, Irving walked towards Hayward with his arms in the air. If I’m reading lips and body language correctly, Irving looked at Hayward and pointed in the direction of Al Horford, saying, “You were supposed to go to him.” 

Horford had bounced out from the top of the key with his right arm extended, looking for the inbound from Hayward. Had Horford received the ball, he would’ve handed it off to a streaking Irving down the middle of the court for an attempt to send the game to overtime.

Horford never touched the ball. So neither did Irving. After the loss, Hayward said that he had a couple options on the inbound and that he had confidence in Tatum because he’d seen him hit that shot before.

Irving also talked after the loss and went on a rant about how the Celtics need more experience. This wasn’t the first time he’d gone on that same exact “experience” rant. And like the last time, I’ll counter it by saying Irving needs to take that excuse and throw it in the trash, because it’s no good. And it was a terrible look after Saturday night’s loss in Orlando.

Showing up your coach and teammate on the court at the end of the game wasn’t the best look either. But at least I can understand Irving’s frustration with not touching the ball on the final possession of a two-point game with three seconds left. And certainly, I can side with Irving over being upset with his coach not drawing up a play that guarantees he touches the ball in that situation.

Irving is a star. He’s the Celtics’ best player. He should be taking the last shot in that situation every single time, especially on Saturday night.

It felt like Irving thought so too. And I can’t blame him for that. I blame the coach.

Stevens has a team that’s not on the same page. He’s dealing with a mix of experience, youth, egos, and max contracts. Simply put, he’s coaching an NBA team that’s underachieving. It’s his job to fix it, until the issues become so toxic that Danny Ainge needs to step in and make a trade.

However it’s done, Stevens needs to clean up this mess soon. Because once the Patriots are done playing football, the pressure to successfully play through some of these issues might be too much to overcome from within.

Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” on PodcastOne, iTunes, and Spotify. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard. Subscribe to YouTube.com/DannyPicard.

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