Kyrie Irving embraces Nets-Celtics matchup: 'This is the best part of the story that could be written'

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Kyrie Irving cropped 3/6/22
Kyrie Irving cropped 3/6/22

Kyrie Irving returns to Boston, his former NBA home from 2017-19, as the Nets and Celtics tip off a first-round playoff series Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

Back at TD Garden for the first time since a 126-120 loss March 6, Irving has a fresh outlook as the Nets look to go on a run in the Eastern Conference.

Irving added that he has hope about his relationship with Celtics fans rather than being the villain in the best-of-seven set.

"It's been three years now," Irving said, via MassLive. "Hopefully, probably by the fourth year or after this series, we can be done talking about the past time and what happened there. For me, I definitely don't want to focus on anything other than what's going on with our team. Don't want to focus on the fans; don't want to focus on any of the extra stuff outside of my control.

"The environment's going to be the environment. I'm looking forward to it. It's just going in there with a sharp focus, fearless attitude and just stay to our team principles, and just live with the results.

"I just hope we can move past kind of my Boston era, and just reflect on some of the highlights I left at TD Garden that they can replay. And just move forward. New paradigm, baby."

The Nets handled the Celtics to the tune of a 4-1 series win in the first round last year, but Boston fans targeted Irving figuratively with boos and literally when a water bottle was thrown at the Brooklyn point guard.

"All's fair in competitions," Irving said, via the New York Post. "When emotions are running high, anything can happen and I just want to go in there with a poise and a composure and not pay attention to any of the extra noise."

The Celtics edged the Milwaukee Bucks -- both 51-31 -- for the No. 2 seed, while the Nets won their last four regular-season games to finish 44-38.

They subsequently took care of business in the play-in tournament this past Tuesday with a 115-108 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, earning the seventh seed and setting the stage for what figures to be a highly anticipated battle -- one Irving embraces.

"I wouldn't say we'd like to avoid them in any way," Irving said, via the New York Post. "This is the best part of the story that could be written. We go against Boston and have a chance to redeem ourselves. They have a healthy team, we have a healthy team; now we get to see who's (better)."