BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said Wednesday that a team meeting following a loss against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 21 was necessary for the Celtics to clear the air within their locker room, and helped lead to a stretch that has seen Boston win seven of its last nine games.
“We could pinpoint a lot of turning points,” Irving said after Boston romped to a 135-108 victory over the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden on Wednesday night. “We just want to build that chemistry first. Just getting with one another, really put everything out there and then move on from that point.
“At that point, playing against Milwaukee, we weren’t at rock bottom, but we needed to address some s— in this locker room. It’s just good to get stuff out in the air. As grown men and guys that have expectations for themselves, it was good to hear guys talk about what they wanted for themselves and what they wanted for this team.”
At the time of the meeting, the Celtics had lost three straight games, including a home loss to the lowly Phoenix Suns, on the heels of winning their previous eight. Since, then, however, the Celtics have won seven of nine — including an overtime thriller against the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day — and four in a row to begin 2019 after routing the Pacers, leading to a jovial postgame atmosphere inside Boston’s locker room as it prepared to head south to face the Miami Heat on Thursday night on the second half of a back-to-back.
“Hopefully, you’ll see those same smiles when we’re in a tight game,” Irving said. “You want to see that. You want to see that translate into situations where we’re in a tight game and we all still feel good. No one goes their own ways, and that’s how you build a team, and that’s how you build a championship culture.
“Just feeling good with one another and on the bench, we’re up and want everybody to do well. Those guys work just as hard as we do, and we all want to see each other do well.”
Not only did the Celtics score a season-high in points against Indiana, but Irving scored 12 points — the lowest total he has had in a single game since scoring three against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 27. He said that if the Celtics keep playing this way, he’ll be happy taking a smaller share of the scoring load.
“We’re making shots and we’re continuing to make each other better and making those plays that we weren’t making at the beginning of the season of just trusting one another in specific positions in our offense,” Irving said. “At this point, I feel like we’re very comfortable in what we’re running, and guys being in specific spots, and opportunities that we can take advantage of, and passes being delivered on time, and just caring about the pass and caring about your teammate making a shot.
“So everything we talked about at the beginning of the season, I feel like it’s translating now as we continue to get to know one another. Meat of the season right now and you can tell that our team is just feeling really good being around each other. And it’s totally different in terms of how we feel out there. It’s just really positive. And when I don’t have to go out there and score 30 it’s cool with me. I probably won’t have to score 30 for us until we play one of the best teams in the league — or, if any — until the playoffs. So I’m happy about that.”