While playing to empty stands at TD Garden didn’t offer the same proper greeting that Celtics fans would’ve relished in, Irving was sensational. He weaved through defenders, made strong takes to the rim, and drained a few contested threes.
Brooklyn tacked on 35 first-quarter points, grabbed a double-digit lead, and essentially never looked back en route to a 113-89 preseason blowout win over the Celtics.
Kyrie Irving On Being Back In Boston: ‘I’m Grateful To Have Relationships With A Lot Of These Guys Are Still Here’
Irving finished with 17 points on 7-of-15 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from deep. Making his Nets debut in Boston, Irving’s teammate Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting to go with his 6 rebounds, three blocks, and one steal.
After the game, Kyrie spoke to the media about returning to Boston and what it was like to see his former teammates.
“I’m grateful to be able to have relationships with a lot of these guys that are still here,” Irving said. “At the end of the day, we went to war together. I respect all those young men down there. We’re just young kings growing in a business where we want to do what makes us happy. To see Jayson (Tatum) get better, to see Jaylen (Brown) get better, and see these guys mature in the positions they’re in.
“I’m nothing but proud of them. Coming here is easy, performing here is easy.”
Kyrie Irving On Burning Sage: ‘Want To Make Sure We’re All Balanced’
Irving was seen embracing Tatum and Brown moments after the final buzzer and before the game, Kyrie was trending on Twitter after a video of Irving on the parquet burning sage surfaced. He was, of course, asked about the new pregame ritual.
Kyrie Irving makes his return to TD Garden.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 18, 2020
“It just comes from a lot of native tribes being able to sage – just cleanse the energy, want to make sure that we’re all balanced,” Irving said. “When we come into this job or when we come to this place, it’s not anything that I don’t do at home that I did today. You know, I saged last game and I plan to sage, you know, almost every game, if the opposing team will allow me to. Literally, more or less, it’s just for us to stay connected and for us to feel great about going to work, and feeling safe, and provided for.
“For my ancestors, I’m not going to bring too much spirituality into basketball but, yeah, it’s part of my native culture and where I’m from.”
Tatum was asked if he witnessed Irving with sage before the game and his thoughts on it.
“No, I didn’t see that,” Tatum replied. “I heard about it but I didn’t see it, though.”
Tatum left it at that, his seconds of silence signaled for the next question. Onto a much more pressing matter; how has the short turnover from last season impacted the Celtics’ chemistry?
“It’s just part of it,” Tatum said. “But it’s not like we’re the only teammates going through it; everybody is. You know, we acquired new guys and we don’t have much time but we got to figure it out. Everybody’s a professional, high-IQ, so, we’re going to figure it out; the chemistry part.”