NBA Finals: Kyrie Irving Confronts 'Self-Doubt' in Boston to Overcome Celtics

The Mavericks need a victory in Boston to stay alive in the series. Dallas guard has faced challenges playing against his former team.
Anna Ciao
By: Anna Ciao

Kyrie Irving faces intense scrutiny as he heads back to Boston for Game 5 of the NBA finals with the Dallas Mavericks.

Kyrie Irving, the Dallas point guard, is acutely aware of the Boston Celtics' determination to clinch the NBA finals in Game 5 on Monday night. Irving spent two seasons with the Celtics but became a contentious figure among Celtics fans after departing for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. In Games 1 and 2 of the finals, played at TD Garden where Irving faced harsh chants, he struggled as the Mavericks suffered losses. The series shifted when Boston won both games in Dallas, securing a commanding 3-1 lead.

Despite the hostile reception, Irving seems reconciled with his legacy in Boston as the Celtics pursue their 18th championship. Reflecting on his time there, Irving acknowledged he could have better connected with the community and the franchise's rich history.

"Now being older and reflecting, I definitely would have taken more time to engage with the community and learn from the champions who came before me," Irving told reporters on Sunday. "There's a deep championship tradition here ... They expect a full commitment to Celtics pride and everything the organization stands for."

Kyrie Irving, reflecting on his reception in Boston, acknowledged his position as an outsider due to his departure from the Celtics. Despite the fans' adversarial chants, Irving accepts the consequences, recognizing his role in the situation.

"And if you don’t, then you’ll be outed. I’m one of the people that’s on the outs. I’m perfectly fine with that, you know what I mean. I did it to myself.”

Having won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, Irving also admits he needs to address his own shortcomings while playing in Boston.

“I mean, let’s just call it what it is,” Irving said. “When the fans are cheering, ‘Kyrie sucks,’ they feel like they have a psychological edge, and that’s fair. Of course, if I’m not making shots or turning the ball over, that makes it even more of a pressing issue that they can stay on me for.

“I think in order to silence even the self-doubt, let alone the crowd doubt, but the self-doubt when you make or miss shots, that’s just as important as making sure I’m leading the team the right way and being human through this experience, too, and telling them how I feel.”

Despite Boston's flaws, they had a disappointing loss in Game 4 to Dallas, losing 122-84. Jayson Tatum scored 15 points for the Celtics, hoping they can regain their form after an impressive season where they won 79 games out of 100 between the regular season and playoffs in 2023-24.

“I think we maybe put too much pressure on ourselves at that moment to be perfect or think it was going to go how we wanted it to go,” Tatum said of their Game 4 loss. “[Coach Joe Mazzulla] did a great job of reminding us that it’s OK to smile during wars. It’s OK to have fun during high-pressure moments. That’s what makes our team unique and special.”

Luka Dončić scored 29 points and Irving contributed 21 to keep Dallas alive in Game 4. The Mavericks are aiming to make NBA history by becoming the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series. Historically, teams are 0-156 when losing the first three games of a series.

“I think the most important thing is to show that we believe,” Dončić said. “I think we showed in Game 4. If not, if we wouldn’t believe, we probably wouldn’t have won that game. So I think obviously the talk is easy to talk about it, but then showing it is another thing.”

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Anna Ciao
Written by: Anna Ciao
Anna Ciao is a sports content contributor at Betimate. Born and raised in a rural village in China, I have had a passion for football and various sports such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, from a young age. Along with diligent studies, I achieved an IELTS score of 8.0 in the English language, and I have become a content contributor specializing in sports, particularly football, as I am today. I hope that my articles are helpful to readers.

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