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The Celtics have a first-world problem



Celtics fans have always been a positive bunch. Blame it on Bob Ryan, who revolutionized basketball writing while at the Globe, and also had no problem admitting his proclivity for the Celtics.

In that way, they’re different than most of New England; a Patriots fan is more likely to call for Bill Belichick's job after a 2-1 start. A Celtics fan is more likely to make a death threat to WEEI’s Lou Merloni for calling Al Horford Average Al.

Which is why, regarding Kyrie Irving, the talented but maddening star who’s free to walk this offseason after a bizarre year that started with a promise he’d sign a long term deal, there’s a feeling of existential gloom with a sprinkle of an identity crisis. This era of Brad Stevens and #NetsPicks has been a five-year party of optimism.

Now the walls are caving in.

[READ: Who cares? Obviously not Kyrie Irving]

All season, after a summer of bold predictions, this team felt like a trainwreck. Irving, by nature of his own presence, promised it wasn’t.

In the end, it was -- or will be in a game or two. The Bucks hold a 3-1 lead in the series and are home for Game 5 tonight.

In Game 4’s third quarter, the Celtics’ best five was played off the court by George Hill, Sterling Brown, Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez and, of all people, Pat Connaughton.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished them off in the fourth quarter, while Irving made mindless plays like this one, which led to a crucial and-one.



For the game, he finished 7-of-22 after promising he wouldn’t go 8-of-22 again. For the series, he’s 31-of-83 and 6-of-25 from deep.

But don’t worry. He hasn’t lost his confidence.

After Monday’s game: “I should have shot 30. I’m that great of a shooter.”

After Monday’s game, on his poor shooting: “Who cares?”

On May 3: “I’m an actual genius when it comes to this game.”

It appears Irving is out the door, which, on its own, is fine. He has a right to do so, and the Celtics won’t cease to exist without him. But the way he’s done it -- by leading on a fanbase before flaming out in a nonchalant way -- has been mystifying.

Isaiah Thomas wasn’t perfect basketball-wise, but he was perfect for Boston.

Irving didn’t have to be perfect. He could have made it work, though -- with his teammates, with his coaches, and with the fans. But he rarely seemed interested in doing so.

[READ: The Celtics are falling to pieces right before our eyes]

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