"You gotta hit some adversity. We have to hit something. Like we need it as a team," Irving told reporters following Sunday's 103-95 loss to the Orlando Magic. "There's a lot more adversity down the road and we've got to be able to weather the storm no matter what.
"That's part of the game and learning one another and being able to figure out how do you respond from that. Us as a group, as we've come in the last four months or five months, it's new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It's part of the game. It's part of being on a team, part of being a professional on any team, in any environment. You gotta have stuff like this where you gotta figure it out."
The Celtics have lost three games since returning from their trip to London, all of them coming at TD Garden. Irving missed Thursday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers but returned Sunday to score 40 points in Sunday's loss to the struggling Magic.
The Celtics play their next four games on the road against Western Conference teams, starting Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Forward Al Horford took a different attitude than Irving, saying the team is "fighting for our lives right now."
"In my eyes, I feel like we're fighting for our lives right now," Horford said. "That has to be our mindset going into Tuesday's game [against the Lakers], and we'll take it a game at a time, focus on Tuesday and make sure we come out with a lot of energy and that we're able to sustain it throughout the game."
Boston holds a two-game lead over the Toronto Raptors and has the benefit of the East flailing away during its struggles. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been in complete disarray for the better part of a month and are closer to being out of the playoffs than they are to overtaking the Celtics. Toronto has the best point differential in the conference but is 3-4 over its last seven games.
The deeper we get into the regular season, the more apparent it is that every East team is deeply and fundamentally flawed. Irving's stay-the-course rhetoric is probably the right attitude to have at this point.