Kyrie Irving on the boos in Boston, 'I thought it was going to be a little louder in here'

2024 NBA Finals - Game One
2024 NBA Finals - Game One

BOSTON — When Kyrie Irving was announced in player introductions, he heard the full-throated disapproval of Celtics fans. Every time he touched the ball during the game, even when it was a blowout in the fourth quarter, Celtics fans booed him.

Irving's reaction to all this?

"I thought it was going to be a little louder in here but I'm expecting the same things going into Game 2," Irving said. "Crowd trying to get me out of my element, my teammates out of my element."

Maybe it wasn't the crowd — it was more about the Celtics' impressive defense than the "Kyrie sucks" chants — but Irving was off his element Thursday night. Irving shot 6-of-19 on his way to a dozen points, he wasn't beating his man and forcing a double or rotations, and he was settling for midrange shots (where he took 11 of his 19 attempts).

"I felt like I had a lot of great looks. They hit the back rim or were just a little left or right," Irving said. "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."

That last bit sounded like Irving, the elder statesman, the mature player we have heard from all season and into the playoffs. He is genuinely comfortable with where he is professionally and personally, and it's good to see.

The Boston crowd will again try to rattle him come Sunday. Irving is the guy who once promised, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” then bolted to join Kevin Durant in Brooklyn. This is the guy who stomped on the Lucky the Leprechaun logo at center court and flipped off Celtics fans during a playoff series. There is plenty of venom for him from Celtics fans.

Irving has to be better in Game 2 Sunday. Flat out. It's the same with Luka Doncic (who had 30 and 10 but also didn't force doubles and rotations). Dallas has a history this postseason of rough Game 1s followed by strong Game 2s, they need to do that again or they will head home in a deep hole that will be difficult to climb out of.

Iring has to lead that effort but expect the crowd to be louder, trying again to get him out of his element.