Kyrie Irving has missed more shots over his last three games than in any stretch in his playoff career, including his 7-of-22 night and 1-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc on Monday, but he’s not worried about it.
“Who cares?” Irving told reporters after the Celtics’ 113-101 loss Monday to the Bucks in Game 4, via ESPN. “I’m a basketball player. Prepare the right way. Like I said, it’s a little different when your rhythm is challenged every play down. You’re being picked up full court. They’re doing things to test you.
“The expectations on me are going to be sky-high. I try to utilize their aggression against them and still put my teammates in great position while still being aggressive. I’m trying to do it all.
“For me, the 22 shots? I should have shot 30. I’m that great of a shooter.”
There’s an old basketball adage: “Shooters shoot.” And while it’s not an adage, the fact is a shooter doesn’t stop shooting simply because he’s missing. Shots eventually will fall; Irving is banking on that fact moving forward.
“I missed shots,” Irving said. “Shots just didn’t go in. You go out and prepare, like I said. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.
“They do a great job of loading, too. They’re making the paint look crowded whenever I’m driving or wherever I’m going on the court, seeing two or three bodies, sometimes four.
“Now it’s time to get ready for Game 5.”
But it’s undeniable Irving has been at his worst this series as it heads to Milwaukee, where the Bucks, up 3-1, can clinch.
He is 19 for 62 from the floor in his last three games and 4 of 20 from beyond the arc. The 43 missed shots is his most in a three-game stretch in the playoffs, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
And the Celtics need Irving to shoot well if they want to win. In the 36 games Irving shot 40 percent or better from beyond the 3-point line during the regular season Boston went 25-11. In the other 31 games they went 12-19. When he shot 50 percent or better from the floor on all of his shots, the Celtics were 22-14. In all other games they were 15-16.
During the playoffs when he shoots 40 percent or better from 3 the Celtics are 4-0. In all other games they’re 1-3. In the playoffs when he shoots 50 percent from the floor they’re 2-0. In all other games they are 3-3.
Down 3-1, Boston has a massive hill to climb if it wants to win the series. But Irving’s confidence in his team, and himself, has not changed.
“It’s unwavering,” Irving said, when asked where his confidence level in the Celtics stands at this point. “It’s the game of basketball. At this point, we obviously understand the X’s and O’s. It’s just going out and trying to manage the game better.”