Are the Celtics Better Off Without Kyrie?
Kyrie Irving is widely recognized as one of the best and arguably the most exciting player to watch in the NBA, but are the Boston Celtics actually a better team without him? With Lebron James now in Los Angeles after his migration to the Western Conference, many experts believed that the East would be the Celtics to win after they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals the last two years without the assistance of star players like Irving and Gordan Hayward, who suffered a gruesome ankle injury at the beginning of last season. They were up 3-2 in the finals series with the Cavs until Lebron and his herculean efforts carried Cleveland to come back and ultimately advance to the NBA finals, and there some who believe if the team had a healthy Irving that it would have been enough to close it out and would have faced the Warriors in the next round of the playoffs. However, with the team currently struggling to keep pace with the first place Milwaukie Bucks and second place Toronto Raptors, they sit a game behind the Indiana Pacers for third place and are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for fourth place those same folks are questioning if Boston is better off without their most prominent player. The Celtics are 9-2 this season when Irving hasn’t suited up and a pair of those wins came against playoff caliber competition. It is believed that the team’s success without him is a reflection of him not being a got fit with Head Coach Brad Stevens’ system and not his talent or ability to contribute. Kyrie has struggled to stay on the court consistently as a result of injuries during his tenure with the Celtics. Another knock on him is that when he is in the game that the offense runs and flows through him, where the primary goal is to get the ball to their best player so that he can do his thing. Although, when he is out of the line up it allows the other players on the team to flourish, develop and play better defensively. Their young nucleus of forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as well as point guard Marcus Smart, all of which are first top 10 picks taken in the last five years, have shown great signs of promise in Irving’s absence over the past season and a half. With the summer rapidly approaching and free agency right on the horizon, many believe that Irving will depart Boston for the not so green pastures of New York, near where he grew up in West Orange, NJ and play for the Nicks. They are going to have a ton of cap space and are reportedly prepared to compensate him handsomely if he decides to come home to the New York/New Jersey area and lead the franchise in a new post-Porzingis era.