Irving: Losing Skid is Exactly the Adversity These C’s Need

BOSTON – Losing streaks are never enjoyable, but hard times can often bring out the best in teams. That was Kyrie Irving’s mindset Sunday afternoon after the Celtics dropped their season-high third consecutive game to the Orlando Magic by a score of 103-95 at TD Garden.

The Eastern Conference-leading Celtics obviously haven’t experienced much difficulty in the win-loss column this season, but now they are finally getting their first taste of adversity in that department. It’s frustrating, yes, but their All-Star point guard believes it could be beneficial for them in the long run.

“You’ve gotta hit some adversity,” said Irving, who logged 40 points, seven rebounds and five assists during the loss. “We have to hit something. We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You’ve got to be able to weather the storm no matter what. That’s part of the game in learning one another and being able to figure out, ‘How do you respond to that?”

Responding won’t be easy for the Celtics because they’re about to hit the road for what looks to be a very demanding trip out West. But they’re more than up for the challenge.

“We’re playing against some hungry teams out in the Western Conference,” said Irving, whose Celtics will face the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Nuggets, respectively, before returning to Boston for a three-game homestand. “Those teams have come in here and played pretty well against us, except for the Clippers (who we haven’t played yet). This trip is just great for a young, developing team like we have, and it’s fun because you can learn so much more about one another, and going on the road is a test.”

Passing the test will depend on if the C’s can change their mindset and play with a greater collective desire. Al Horford says the team must play with consistent passion Tuesday night against the Lakers from the opening tip until the final buzzer.

“In my eyes, it feels like we’re fighting for our lives right now,” said Horford. “That has to be our mindset going into Tuesday’s game. And we’ll take it one game at a time. We’ll focus on Tuesday and make sure that we come out with a lot of energy and make sure we’re able to sustain it throughout the game.”

One thing that Brad Stevens does not want the Celtics to do is panic. His squad has experienced very strong stretches of play during this losing spell that have been spoiled by momentary lapses.

The C’s actually played very well during 75 percent of Sunday’s game, but the third quarter – when they were outscored 32-12 – is what crushed them in the end.

Stevens knows that if the team can just put together a complete, 48-minute effort, then they should be in great position to win.

“One game at a time, one meeting at a time,” is the approach the coach wants his squad to take as it embarks out West. “Everything else we’ll figure out how to play better. I thought we actually did some things better today (against Orlando), especially on the offensive end in the first half. But you’ve got to play both ends; you’ve got to put it all together.”

Irving believes the team can do just that during the games that lie ahead. He sees this losing spell as a key moment in the development of this young Celtics team, and knows from experience that times like this can help build character in the long run.

“Us, as a group, we’ve come together in the last four or five months, so it’s new,” said Irving. “And we need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game, part of being on a team, part of being a professional on any team in any environment. You’ve just got to have stuff like this where you gotta figure it out.”

The Celtics will look to figure things out Tuesday night when they take on the Lakers, as they try to end their season-long losing streak and get back to their winning ways.