Kyrie Irving had achieved the player burrow when the ringer sounded, and probably didn’t hear the pleading fan perched overhead.
“Kyrie, don’t leave, Kyrie, don’t leave, we need you, don’t listen to these other stupid fans,” he shouted.
Maybe nothing can be said at this point, though. Irving likes to put the burden on himself, and after last night, that weight has reached the point of hurt.
The Celtics star, battling once more to lead his team through a rocky playoff series, could do little to spare the Celtics from their third straight collapse – this time a 113-101 Game 4 loss to Milwaukee that gave the Bucks a 3-1 lead.
Irving, for the most part firing blanks, and like his teammates commonly at a loss for second half answers, shot 7-for-22, including 1-for-7 from 3-point range, on his way to an inefficient 23-point performance.
Asked about leaving the floor early, he said, “The game was over.”
Asked about the difficulty that Celtics, have had discovering enough great shots, he adulated the protective plan of Bucks mentor Mike Budenholzer.
Asked about his shooting night, he said, “I’m trying to do it all. For me, the 22 shots, I should have shot 30. I’m that great of a shooter.”
Irving absolutely wasn’t the only one, as confirm by the performances of Gordon Hayward (two points, 1-for-5, no assists), Jayson Tatum (17 points, 1-for-5 from 3-point range) and Terry Rozier (two points, 1-for-5).
Furthermore, for the majority of their hostile inadequacies, particularly amid a 7-for-21 second from last quarter drudge, the Celtics were fine until, for things, Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton went to the bench with four fouls apiece.
The Celtics were leading, 67-65 with 4:12 left in the third, when a Bucks unit of Ersan Ilyasova, George Hill, Pay Connaughton, Sterling Brown and Eric Bledsoe strafed them with a 13-1 run for a 78-68 lead.
The Celtics wouldn’t lead once more. More regrettable still, it denoted their third straight second from last quarter breakdown in their third straight loss. Their seat followed up an iron deficient 16-point performance in Game 3 with seven on 3-for-17 shooting last night.
“It’s tough,” Al Horford said of Milwaukee’s third quarter run. “That was a moment there where we could have capitalized more and we didn’t, for some reason. I have to look at the film, but I didn’t feel like we really exploited or played the way we wanted to play. We did it at times but we didn’t do it enough in stretches.”
Seeing the Bucks, scarcely ahead, was merely a tease, though.
“I’m not going to sit here and say guys are trying to do too much. I know every guy in this locker room is trying to win. Sometimes you’re just not making the best decision,” said Marcus Morris, one of the early heroes in the first half.
“The difference is we’re just playing basketball,” he said. “We’re playing the game plan, the ball is moving, and, I’m sorry to say it, but our offense is dictating our defense. We miss shots, we’re not getting back. I feel like we’ve been pretty soft.”
Said lack of defensive resolve, despite Marcus Smart’s expedient return from a torn oblique muscle, has also led to repeatedly poor decisions in the offensive end, according to Morris.
“I wouldn’t say the ball is stopping. I think guys are just trying to be aggressive, trying to score,” he said. “At times their defense moves and they’re loading our best players. We’ve got to take some of that off Ky and other guys that step up and make plays with the ball in their hands also.”
Irving, though, wants more of that burden, more of a chance to flex his leadership.
“When the ball doesn’t go in the rim, the energy of the basketball can translate into the other end as well. That’s just basketball 101,” he said. “That’s a choice that we have to make. And just being more communicative. It’s a natural thing as an individual when your shots aren’t going in to be thinking about that shot as you go down in a defensive position. It can take you out mentally what the other team is running, especially in the playoffs where possessions are magnified unbelievably. It’s been a consistent thing for us that we haven’t made shots and the defensive end of the floor has taken lapses. But it just can’t happen going forward. We have no choice. At this point it’s do or die.”