Why Kyrie didn't like Nets' approach in 10th straight loss to Celtics


To say the Boston Celtics have the Brooklyn Nets' number would be an understatement.

The Celtics demolished the Nets 139-96 at TD Garden on Wednesday night in a record-setting, wire-to-wire victory. The C's haven't lost to their Atlantic Division rival since Nov. 24, 2021, and if you include the team's four-game sweep of Brooklyn in last year's playoffs, Boston has won the last 10 matchups.

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To be fair, the Nets were missing Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons on Wednesday. But even a player of Durant's caliber can't make up for a 43-point deficit, and the Celtics also beat Brooklyn by 11 earlier this season with both Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy.

After Wednesday's rout, Irving appeared displeased with how the Nets entered their matchup against the NBA's top team.

"When you’re going against a very motivated team such as the Boston Celtics, they have a chip on their shoulder," Irving said in his postgame press conference. "It’s clear as day that they want to win a championship and not waste any time in the regular season.

"Tonight, I felt like we were just one of those teams in the way. We just can't be one of those teams in the way. We've got to be one of those teams that stands up to them and at least shows them that we’re going to be competition for them moving forward, which I believe we are."

The Nets went on a tear in December, winning 12 games in a row to inch within a game of the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. They've tumbled since Durant's injury, however, losing seven of their last 11 games after Durant suffered a sprained MCL on Jan. 8.

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Irving, who spent two rocky seasons in Boston from 2017 to 2019, knows the Nets will have to go through the Celtics if they want to emerge from the East. And what Kyrie has noticed about his former team is that continuity is helping the C's thrive.

"As a competitor, I’m not going to stop until I figure out what this methodology is to the Boston Celtics is right now and why they’re so hot," Irving said. "I think I have a main reason in just how connected they are and how much they play together and how many minutes they’ve logged in together. Again, that chip on their shoulder. You can see it; you can feel it."

Ironically, the Celtics began to develop that continuity shortly after Irving left, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown stepping into leadership roles after being overshadowed by the All-Star guard. Tatum and Brown's development post-Irving has paid massive dividends for Boston, which reached the NBA Finals last year and appears poised for another deep playoff run in 2023.

Considering how the last 10 meetings have gone, the Celtics should be eager to draw Kyrie's Nets again this postseason.

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