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Kyrie sends message to Celtics fans after Mavs’ Game 2 loss



Kyrie sends message to Celtics fans after Mavs’ Game 2 loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Kyrie Irving just can’t help himself.

The Dallas Mavericks star has insisted he’s grown since stomping on the Boston Celtics‘ logo and flipping off TD Garden fans in previous playoff meetings against his former team, and that he’s more focused on playing basketball than going back-and-forth with a hostile crowd.

But there Irving was goading the Garden crowd amid a “Kyrie sucks!” chant in the first half, and getting the last word in to Celtics fans as he walked off the court following Dallas’ 105-98 loss in Game 2 on Sunday that dropped the Mavs into a 2-0 series hole.

“See you for (Game) 5,” Irving appeared to tell the crowd while holding up five fingers, suggesting that his team will win at least one of its next two games in Dallas to avoid the series sweep and set up a Game 5 back at TD Garden next Monday.

Irving certainly isn’t the first player to pull this move; Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards made a similar guarantee in Denver after Minnesota‘s Game 5 loss to the Nuggets, then backed up his talk by forcing (and eventually winning) a Game 7 on the road. Irving also has experience rallying from a 2-0 NBA Finals deficit, as his Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in seven games in 2016 after trailing 2-0 and 3-1 in the series.

If Irving wants to duplicate that result, however, he’ll need to level up considerably between the whistles.

The eight-time All-Star has been abysmal offensively through two games, averaging just 14 points (12 in Game 1 and 16 in Game 2) on 13 of 37 shooting. He’s 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the series and is a minus-22 in 78 minutes of action.

Irving’s struggles against the Celtics are nothing new, either: He’s now lost 12 consecutive games to Boston dating to March 6, 2022, when he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets. He’s averaging just 19.7 points over those 12 games while making just 41.1 percent of his field goals and 26.4 percent of his 3-point shots, including 0-fers in four of his last five postseason games against the Celtics.

Irving’s lack of production has significantly hampered the Mavs, who haven’t had a player outside Luka Doncic score more than 20 points in these Finals. Players not named Doncic made just 2 of 17 3-pointers in Game 2, as Dallas has gotten virtually no production from either Irving or its role players.

Irving has been better at home in these playoffs — he’s averaging 24.1 points and 5.3 assists through eight games in Dallas — so perhaps he snaps out of his funk in Games 3 and 4 without the Garden crowd at his throat. But if that’s the case and he gets his wish of coming back to Boston for Game 5, another performance like Irving had Sunday potentially could end the Mavs’ season.

Game 3 is set for Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, with NBC Sports Boston‘s Celtics Pregame Live beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

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