"There's light at the end of all this," Irving said after Sunday's 115-96 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, according to the Boston Globes' Nicole Yang. "That's probably where my patience will always lie, knowing that something's beyond this. This challenge is happening for a reason, and I've got to believe in that."
Boston has dropped its last four games and owns the Association's third-worst defense (118.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) during that stretch. The Celtics blew an 18-point lead against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.
Gordon Hayward returned to the lineup Sunday following a three-game absence while in the league's concussion protocol. Al Horford was unavailable due to left knee soreness, though, while Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams were sidelined with back contusions.
"We have a lot of great guys in this locker room and they are committed to winning," Irving said, according to Mass Live's Tom Westerholm. "We have winners in this locker room as well, so I'm never worried about trying to go back and respond with these guys. They are a resilient group who have proven that for the last year and a half we've been together. It hasn't been pretty all the time but we've always tried to find a way to figure it out and get the most out of each other. It starts with me and it trickles down to the rest of our leaders on this team. You just got to be committed and it starts with me ...
"We're trying to build great championship habits, and that takes time, and it takes a commitment. But like I said, it starts with me, and I'll do my best to keep communicating as best I can and get the best out of these guys, because they deserve it from me."
The loss to the Spurs drops the Celtics' record to 43-31, placing them two games back of the Indiana Pacers for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.