Kyrie Irving: ‘I thought it was going to be a little louder’ in Boston amid Mavs’ 18-point loss

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BOSTON — New Englanders booed Kyrie Irving on Thursday night. They jeered when he missed shots. They told him, in unison, he is a verb worse than “stinks.”

Irving’s reply, following his first NBA Finals game against his former team, at TD Garden, the building he called home for two injury-plagued, tumultuous seasons?

“I thought it was going to be a little louder in here.”

Safe bet Celtics fans meet Irving’s expectations in Game 2 on Sunday.

Irving struggled in the Mavericks’ 107-89 loss to Boston, scoring just 12 points on 6-of-19 shooting with two assists. His participation in this particular finals is a major sidebar, given not only his rocky tenure in Boston, his abrupt departure as a free agent after he had pledged to stay with the Celtics and the acrimony that followed him when he went to Brooklyn.

A harsh reaction from Boston’s typically rough (on opponents) crowd was expected and delivered, though it was easier to heckle Irving with the Mavericks trailing by double digits for most of the game.

Irving said he is “expecting the same things going into Game 2 — crowd trying to get me out of my element, my teammates out of my element.

“But again, the energy has to be focused towards the game,” Irving said. “I felt like I had a lot of great looks. They hit (the) back rim or were just a little left or right. Just got to stay confident and stay poised throughout this, man. This is the best time of the year to be playing. There’s only two teams left. Let’s put it in perspective.

“The environment is going to be what it is but my focus is on our game plan and making sure my guys feel confident and I feel confident and continue to shoot great shots,” Irving continued.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd said that he, in his Thursday morning address to the team, asked Irving, who has played in three previous finals with Cleveland, and Luka Dončić, one of the game’s biggest stars, to teach the less experienced Mavericks how to handle the spotlight and pressure of the finals.

Dončić, playing in his first finals game, scored 30 points with 10 rebounds.

Irving is the owner of one of the greatest shots in NBA history — a game-winning 3-pointer for the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 finals — and is 14-1 in playoff games where his team can close out the series.

The Mavericks are a long, long way off from getting to close out Boston, and in fact, Irving’s teams have lost their last 11 games to the Celtics.

“That’s what this game is about is controlling our actions, making sure that we stay positive, but also know what we are going up against, the competition level,” Irving said. “We are the best in the world at this point. There are only two teams left. We have proven why we deserve to be here and we’ve earned our right to be here. It’s no time to see ourselves as a short opponent or someone that’s not capable of coming out of this.”

Kidd said of Irving’s performance in Game 1: “ I thought he had great looks that just didn’t go down. He had some great looks at three. He had some great looks in the paint. That’s just part of basketball. Sometimes they go in. Sometimes they don’t.

“Tonight, they just didn’t go down for Ky or most of the team, and hopefully we get those same shots in Game 2 and we can be better.”

The Mavericks, and particularly Irving, will have to be better because it will likely be even louder Sunday when they’re trying to shoot.

Required reading

(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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