Kyrie Irving on Game 2: ‘Be ready to be attacked'


MILWAUKEE — Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving believes his team needs to brace itself for the Milwaukee Bucks’ best punch in Tuesday’s Game 2 of an Eastern Conference Semifinals series.

After the Celtics stole Game 1, and in dominant fashion, Irving said at Tuesday’s morning shootaround that the Bucks are likely going to come out with a sense of desperation.

“[We are] coming back in Game 2 kind of with a reset mindset and just go out there and be ready to be attacked,” said Irving. "We know the sense of urgency for teams that lose Game 1, especially on their home floor, so it’s going to be loud in here, later game, so everybody will be watching. I know that everybody will be anticipating a big performance from Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and Khris [Middleton] and we’ve just got to be ready for that.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted that Boston can play with the same defensive intensity and it might not yield the same result with someone like Antetokounmpo on the opposite side.

"I mean, Giannis could have 40 on any given night and be guarded with the same exact intensity and focus because he's that good,” said Stevens. "We are guarding him with everybody, not just one guy. Certainly, Al [Horford] and [Aron] Baynes will get the majority of that assignment but he's a hard guy to guard. You have to be ready for him to go 3-of-5 from 3 and throw in a couple of those drives that are really hard for the normal human being to make.”

Baynes, listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game, was on the court getting up shots at shootaround and Stevens expected him to attempt to play.

"I've not been told he's not playing,” said Stevens. "I’m under the impression that he's going to go through [shootaround] this morning and give it a go."

Irving said he expects the Bucks to operate with a “higher sense of urgency” and thinks they’ll make some adjustments, particularly in the pick-and-roll, where the Celtics gouged Milwaukee’s drop scheme with mid-range jumpers.

What is Irving’s message to the team before Game 2?

"Just take advantage of the opportunity,” said Irving. "Don’t let your nerves get too high, too low. Just have some fun out here. Enjoy the journey of all this of trying to get 16 wins and going after a gold trophy.”

Celtics teammates have gushed about Irving’s leadership and how he’s emphasized a renewed focus and attention to detail heading into the playoffs. Is Irving being more of a leader on the playoff stage?

"I’m just going out there and just being me,” said Irving. "That’s what I’m best at doing, playing very aggressive, managing emotions, trying to give what the game needs.”

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