Kyrie Irving returns to TD Garden in Boston for the first time since the Brooklyn Nets’ regular-season finale against the Boston Celtics in March. After the Celtics 126-120 win on their home floor, Irving expressed his appreciation for the Celtics but had some choice words for the TD Garden crowd, describing them as “the scorned girlfriend who wants an explanation on why I felt but still hoping for a text back.”
And last year, of course, a Celtic fan tossed a full water bottle at Irving’s head as he exited TD Garden.
Irving is no stranger to hostile playoff environments, especially inside the walls of TD Garden. The Celtics have a reputation for allowing — maybe even encouraging — their fans to impact the game from the stands and add extra flavor to their already pungent homecourt advantage. Steve Nash’s eyes the Kyrie-Boston dynamic as an outside factor.
“I’ve never really thought about it in those terms. You go and play ball, play hard, and try to win the game,” Nash said. “I don’t think you really worry about the fans.”
The Nets head coach isn’t worried about Irving heading into Game 1. He believes Irving’s playoff history (50-20 in playoff series) and his past experiences in Boston will help absorb the fan banter coming the Nets superstar’s way.
“You don’t go into the game worrying about fans. You go into the game worrying about performing. I don’t worry about Kyrie,” Nash said. “Young players, they’re getting their feet wet in this scenario, and some of that is a process. Once you’ve been there a few times, Kyrie’s been here a number of times. He’s been here in a playoff sense and hostile environments dozens of times. It’s not something that I really think has a huge effect on Kyrie.”
In last year’s first-round series against the Celtics — a series Brooklyn cruised a 4-1 series victory — Irving posted averages of 24.8 points, 6.4 boards, and 2.8 assists in 36.9 minutes per game. The Nets guard has never been bounced out of a first-round series, winning all five series appearances he’s played in during his NBA career. He posts a 20-1 record in first-round games in his playoff career.