Let’s Calm Down About Kyrie
Last night, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 108–100. Giannis Antetokounmpo, their best player, poured in 37 points and pulled 13 boards in the victory. On any other night, this would have been a leading story. Antetokounmpo, an MVP hopeful, started his season by dominating an Eastern Conference finalist. That’d normally be a big deal, but today it’s being overshadowed by Kyrie Irving.
If you know anything about anything, you know the deal with Kyrie. He’s an offensive wizard capable of scoring the basketball in ways other players can’t fathom. He showed it at Duke, he showed it in pre-LeBron Cleveland and he showed it while playing with LeBron in Cleveland. We all know he can ball.
Last night, however, he didn’t. He laid an egg, actually. Sure, he scored 17 points, but that was all he did. He only recorded four rebounds, three assists and shot only 28% from the field. Like I said, he laid an egg. The Celtics needed him to have a big game to win. He didn’t.
And while that’s perfectly acceptable to say, let’s all calm down about Kyrie. There aren’t very many people jumping all the way off the deep end, but I’ve already seen multiple articles overreacting to last night’s game.
I’m here to underreact, or react appropriately.
Did Kyrie play well last night? No, he didn’t. Did he have opportunities to lead the C’s to victory? Yes, he did. Was it disappointing that he couldn’t get it done? Of course. Do I think this is going to happen night in and night out? Absolutely not.
Folks, it’s early. The Celtics have played two games. TWO. There are eighty games left. Things will work themselves out.
For the past three years of Kyrie’s career, he’s been reduced to an isolation scorer. He was technically the Cavaliers’ point guard, but LeBron was their primary ball handler. He dribbled as much as he wanted, whenever he wanted. When the team ran sets for Kyrie to isolate his defender, they worked, but that was largely the extent of his use in Cleveland. It’s delusional to expect him to transform into the perfect point guard in just two games.
This offseason, Kyrie spoke with MassLive about his role in Cleveland and his new role in Boston. He said he’d “Actually playing point guard, which is very, very much exciting,” and added that he’d be “Getting that thing on the break and allowing Gordon (Hayward) to have the space around him as well, and allowing Al Horford to make plays as a big, and having an offense that’s not necessarily dictated just on me isolating.”
He was (and still is, I’d assume) excited about playing like a more traditional point guard, but excitement doesn’t automatically translate into execution. There will be kinks. He’s not going to be perfect. I know that’s a tough pill to swallow because Isaiah Thomas was as perfect a point guard the Celtics had had since Rondo with The Big Three, but you’ve gotta give it time.
Kyrie Irving is a generational offensive talent. He’s been known exclusively as a professional bucket getter, but it’s clear he’s been trying to remove that label. He wants to be the point guard the Celtics need, and over time, I’m confident that’s what he’ll become.
Follow Taylor McCloud on Twitter @tdmcld