Kyrie Irving is headed back to Boston with his Brooklyn Nets to potentially close out their first-round series against the Celtics in Games 3 and 4.
Considering the first two games of the series — especially a Game 2 130-108 blowout — it’s expected considering just how much better the Nets are than a disinterested-looking Celtics squad.
The main focus on everyone inside TD Garden up in Boston should only be what happens on the court and on the scoreboard — but Irving voiced concerns that have often been slapped upon the Boston fan base over the decades.
“I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball and there’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism,” Irving said. “People yelling s— from the crowd, but even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
Boston, a town where Irving called home with the Celtics from 2017-2019, has long been accused as one of the more racist sports towns in the United States.
Even Celtics legend Bill Russell — one of the greatest players in NBA history who won 11 titles with the organization — told Slam Magazine last year that Boston fans called him a bevy of inappropriate and racist names. More recently, former All-Star outfielders Torii Hunter and Adam Jones also complained of racist behavior from Boston fans at Fenway Park.
“It is what it is,” Irving said before an unidentified voice off-camera confirmed that it’s the worst-kept secret in sports.
“The whole world knows it,” the voice said.
“The whole world knows it,” Irving repeated.
TD Garden in Boston will have 25% capacity of its 19,580-seat arena for Game 3. For Game 4, the Celtics got the green light to fill the venue at near full capacity.
While the Nets seem to be cruising, head coach Steve Nash understands that there will be ebbs and flows this postseason — regardless of how good they look against Boston.
“I think it’s about having the mindset to get better. We’re not going to get better every game,” Nash said. “You’re going to have good games, bad games, you’re gonna go forward, take a step back. It’s about over the course of this journey we are taking something with us every night.
That means getting the ‘Big 3’ of Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden clicking on all cylinders.
“It’s about that time together on the floor. Time together to understand and to jell and to make those connections that will afford us more down the line,” Nash said. “It’s just time and it’s the mindset that we need to improve. Like I keep saying, this is not a team that’s running this back for year four or five. We’re trying to figure it out as we go here. So each night is important, not only on the scoreboard but also as far as our development.”