Kyrie Irving tells Celtics fans he’ll be back for Game 5 after loss

Kyrie Irving made it clear to Celtics fans that this won’t be the last they see of him in Boston.

Exiting the court after a 105-98 loss to Boston in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, Irving held up his hand multiple times to seemingly indicate the number five, meaning the Mavericks will make sure this series returns to TD Garden for a Game 5 next Monday night.

Kyrie Irving holds up a “five” to fans. @HoopMixOnly/X
Kyrie Irving expects a Game 5. @HoopMixOnly/X

The Mavericks are in a 2-0 series hole and will have to win at least one game at home to ensure a return trip to Boston.

Irving returning to form would go a long way toward helping those efforts after two disappointing showings in his former home in front of a hostile crowd eager to boo him.

Not that Irving has helped himself.

After a disappointing performance in Game 1 on Thursday night, Irving said he expected TD Garden to be “a little louder” than it was.

Irving tallied just 12 points, two assists and missed all five of his 3-point attempts, to go along with game-worst minus-19 rating over 37 minutes.

“Over the past few years in the playoffs here, regular season, it’s been the same thing. I thought it was going to be a little louder in here,” Irving said after Game 1. “But I’m expecting the same things. Going to Game 2, crowd trying to get me out of my element.”

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving reacts after a play against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Boston fans accepted that challenge, with the simmering bad blood between Irving and Celtics fans electrifing the game’s atmosphere.

Before the teams faced off, Irving’s quote about Celtics fans not being loud enough was displayed on the Jumbotron inside TD Garden.

The jeering didn’t stop all night, with fans let Irving hear it, chanting “Kyrie Sucks!” over and over again. 

Irving responded by motioning them to keep going. 

Whether the noise affected him or not, Irving had another poor performance in Game 2.

He finished with just 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting with two rebounds and nine assists. 

This time around, he had nothing to say about the fans after the loss.

“A lot of shots were hitting the back rim. That could piss you off as a competitor, but it’s all part of the game of basketball,” Irving said after the game. “A little disappointed in myself not being able to convert a lot more on my opportunities that I have in the lane. Obviously, I’m going against Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown a few times, but I feel like I have the upper edge on certain possessions where I’ve just got to convert. They are pushing me to my left hand a little bit more. I have to be aware of some of their adjustments like I was in Game 1. … Offensively I have to play better.” 

Kyrie Irving is defended at the rim in Game 2. David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Irving and Boston fans have a long and contentious history.

After leaving the Celtics as a free agent in 2019 following two seasons with them, Irving stomped on the Celtics’ half-court logo while a member of the Nets.

Two years ago during a Boston-Brooklyn playoff series at TD Garden, he flipped off Celtics fans.

Irving, who scored 30 or more points in three of the Mavericks’ four wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference finals, is averaging just 14 points in the NBA Finals.

Dallas needs its star guard to bounce back as soon as possible. 

Game 3 is set at American Airlines Center on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET, with the Mavericks aiming to defend their home court like the Celtics.

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