Boston coach Brad Stevens didn’t blame Kyrie Irving’s shooting woes or the lack of productivity from his bench for the Celtics’ 4-1 series defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Instead, when he talked to reporters Wednesday night after the loss, he pinned it on a different culprit: himself.
“I’ll be the first to say that this, as far as any other year I’ve been a head coach, it’s certainly been the most trying,” said Stevens, who just finished his sixth season in the position. “I think I’ve done — I did a bad job. At the end of the day, as a coach, if your team doesn’t find its best fit together, that’s on you.
“So, I’ll do a lot of deep dives into how to be better.”
The Celtics became the first team in NBA modern playoff history to win their first five games and then lose four in a row.
There wasn’t much Stevens could do in Wednesday night’s 116-91 loss.
The Celtics shot 31.2 percent, and Irving contributed a 6-for-21 performance. For the series, he was 25-for-81, for 30.9 percent, well off his season average of 48.7 percent.
“I mean, truth be told, it’s no time to be disappointed,” Irving said. “I think that you take your lessons, you take your ass-whooping that they handed us, and you move on.”
Whether Irving will be moving on with the Celtics remains to be seen. He is eligible to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent — so are Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris — so the Celtics could look vastly different come fall.
“I understand that we didn’t meet the outside expectations, and we really rode a roller coaster a lot of the year, and it was difficult,” Stevens said. “But I do think, and I told the guys in there, I did think they showed a lot of character in a lot of different times to keep coming back and stay together. I’ve said from the get-go, this time in the locker room, when they’re all together, is great. We just couldn’t find it playing together as well as we had hoped.”