"The young guys don't know what it takes to be a championship level team," Irving said, via Keith Smith of Real GM. "What it takes every day. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we're trying to get to the Finals?"
The young Celtics - led by Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier - found success in the playoffs last season, as the team was just one win away from a Finals appearance even with Irving - and Gordon Hayward - sidelined for the entirety of the run, but Irving thinks that the resulting expectations have affected the team.
"I mean, we had nothing to lose last year," Irving said, via the Boston Herald. "We had nothing to lose, and everybody could play free and do whatever they wanted and nobody had any expectations. We were supposed to be at a certain point, we surpassed that. Young guys were supposed to be at a certain point, they surpassed that... "We come into this season, expectations, and it's real. Everyone from the coaching staff to the players, it's very much real every single day, so that's new. It's tough. It's hard, you know, so I think that what we're facing now is nothing compared to being on that stage trying to get a gold trophy."
Entering their current campaign, many considered the Celtics to be a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. However, due to a slow start, injury issues, and inconsistency, Boston is just fifth in the East halfway through the season, and Irving isn't satisfied.
"We're trying to play for a position right now trying to get a great seed," Irving said. "That should be our number one goal, and that right there is a realization for me that even when I'm thinking about the future, I've got to think about how do we get there, but what steps do we need to hit. That's a goal first just getting a seed. We can't be comfortable being in fifth. I'm not comfortable in it, so now I go back and really re-work things and try to think about how I attack the next day... But the frustration is still inside of me. You know, I'm a competitor."
Ultimately, as a leader of the team, Irving accepts a lot of the blame for the Celtics' struggles, and he will have another opportunity to help turn things around on Monday night when the Celtics travel to Brooklyn to face the Nets (7:30 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass extension).
I've got to be better as the leader of the team as doing so and making sure these guys have more experience in certain situations like that, being more communicative," Irving said, via NBC Sports Boston. "So I put it on me of just being better."
Clearly, the Celtics have some issues to iron out.