Kyrie, Kyrie Irving, Irving, Spalding basketball in court

Kyrie Irving Struggles in Return to Boston, Celtics Take Game 3

BOSTON– The Celtics defeated the Nets 125-119 Friday night to notch a victory in the series which now stands at 2-1 in favor of Brooklyn.

Kyrie Irving played in front of Boston Celtic fans for the first time since he left the team during the summer of 2019.

Irving, who told Boston media he planned on resigning with the team, drew the ire of Celtics fans when he instead opted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

After the surprise change of heart, Irving cited the death of his grandfather in 2018 as a key reason for leaving.

Irving grew up in West Orange and wanted to be closer to his family following the loss.

Now locked in a playoff series with the Celtics, Irving talked with reporters following the Nets Game 2 win on May 25 about returning to Boston.

“It’s not my first time being an opponent in Boston,” Irving said. “So, I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, there’s no belligerence or any racism going on. Subtle racism and people yelling s— from the crowd. But even if it is, that’s just the nature of the game, and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”

Fast forward to Friday nights Game 3 in Boston and Irving did not exactly receive a warm welcome back to TD Garden.

The former St. Patrick and Montclair Kimberly Academy high school star was heckled in a variety of ways.

Fans rained boos down upon Irving during pregame warmups, player introductions and every time he touched the ball during the game.

There were also cheers any time Irving missed a shot and a couple instances of inappropriate chants being directed his way.

''It's basketball. I've been in a few environments in my life,'' Irving told reporters after the loss. ''Like I said, as long as it's just strictly the nature of basketball out there and there's nothing extra, I'm cool with it.''

Unfortunately for Irving and the Nets, the seven-time NBA All-Star was not able to channel the jeering into a winning performance.

Irving struggled for most of the game, sitting at eight points on 4-of-13 shooting well into the second half.

Irving failed to hit a 3-pointer until midway through the fourth quarter and did not attempt a free throw until there was less than a minute left to play.

The final stat line for Irving was 16 points on 6-of-17 from the field, including 2-of-6 from behind the arc.

Irving also grabbed six rebounds and dished out two assists but committed four fouls and a turnover.

Irving and the Nets will attempt to bounce back when they play the Celtics in Game 4 at 7 p.m. tonight on TNT.

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