In what might have been a glimpse of what's potentially to come later this year in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics narrowly lost to the Houston Rockets, but it could have ended a lot differently if Kyrie Irving had missed a couple of shots near the end of the game.
The Rockets narrowly won against the Celtics 123-120 at the Toyota Center in Houston last night, with Eric Gordon coming off the bench to score 29 points, Trevor Ariza scoring 21 points, while James Harden had a double-double performance, scoring 26 points with seven rebounds and 10 assists.
Irving was kept reasonably quiet by the Houston defense, as he only managed to score 18 points with three rebounds, six assists, a steal, and was 6-of-17 from the field. He also only made two of his seven three-pointer attempts.
In the final five seconds of Saturday's game, the Celtics star as well botched two intentional misses, once where he inadvertently banked in a free throw, then another where he completely missed the rim. His team might have been able to win the game if he had missed these shots.
According to ESPN, the point guard expressed his disappointment in failing to miss shots after the game to the media, to which many media members found surprising.
Irving said to reporters after the game: "I suck at them. I've been probably up there five [or] four times and I've failed every single time at trying to miss on purpose. I don't know. Don't ask me. I keep telling my teammates, 'I'm not good at missing.' I'm not."
When his comments caused laughter from reporters, Irving doubled down and reiterated: "I'm serious. Just to think that I have to become better [at missing] in order for our team to have a chance at the end of the game, that I have to miss on purpose. ... I don't know. Sounds asinine. But it's pissing me off right now to think about it."
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens tried to pick up Irving's spirit, as he said: "We did a great job of giving ourselves a chance to win -- or a chance to tie and send it to overtime. Guys did an unbelievable job. We put [big men Greg] Monroe and Al in there [to rebound the intentional misses]. One thing they are is overly big, and then we had guys crashing from the top.
"But it's really hard for Kyrie to miss, which is why he's so special."
Irving added: "I've just got to be able to do it. It's as simple as that."
The Celtics did turn the ball over three times in the last 96 seconds of the game, so maybe Irving is being a bit too harsh on himself here. If anything though, it shows further that he's putting the team first before himself, which is a great sight for Celtics fans moving forward and their goal this season of winning the NBA title.
Boston will look to get back to their winning ways when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Monday. Considering the Celtics are near the top of the Eastern Conference while the Bulls are near the bottom, Irving shouldn't be having to miss many shots for the Celtics to win that game.