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Celtics’ Kyrie Irving says he has to play smarter, just be himself

Kyrie Irving, Celtics

Kyrie Irving has had arguably the best year of his career this season, and his stellar play carried over into Game 1 of the Boston Celtics’ Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. Irving stuffed the stat sheet with 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in a 22-point Boston win that had the NBA community buzzing.

But Irving has struggled to recapture that form in the last two games, and the Celtics have suffered as a result.

In Game 2, Kyrie shot just 4-of-18 from the field and registered a plus-minus of minus-19 for the contest. And in Game 3, Irving scored 29 points but shot just 8-of-22 and committed four turnovers. Not coincidentally, Boston lost both games.

The 27-year-old has been fairly trite in his statements to the media, declaring his need to stay patient and decrying the amount of free-throw attempts the Bucks took in Game 3. But on Sunday, he even was more straightforward and direct in explaining what he needs to change moving forward in the series:

Kyrie Irving — seemingly suggesting that some of his teammates could stand to improve as well — has always held his guys to a high standard. He has also been fairly consistent with his messaging of not stepping outside himself and playing the game the same way:

However, it is hard to ignore Irving’s struggles during this series. Needless to say, the Celtics need their best player to compete at an All-Star level and match Giannis Antetokounmpo if they hope to get back into the series.