A buzzer-beating lay-in by Jayson Tatum gave Boston the win after a hard-fought game.
Boston’s defense was as advertised in the first quarter, but the Celtics found themselves up by only one after the first 12 minutes.
And by halftime, the game was tied.
Boston seemingly pulled ahead in the third before an Irving flurry brought Brooklyn back in the fourth.
This courtside angle of Jayson Tatum’s game-winner last night is awesome 😳
(via dallasryderr, justino_pasquale/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/PFdkAqKESD
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2022
For a series that had plenty of hype leading up to the opener, Game 1 did not disappoint.
However, the on-court action was not the only storyline after the game.
The verbal jousting between Irving and Celtics fans was seen throughout the game and was a big talking point after the fact.
Just why do Celtics fans have so much hatred towards Kyrie?
Irving Backstory With Boston
Not too long ago, Irving was a Celtic himself.
After six seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving wanted out from under LeBron James’ shadow.
He was traded to the Celtics following the 2017 season to be the veteran leader on a team that now included Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown.
Boston won 55 games in Irving’s first season.
Kyrie suffered an injury in March that forced him to miss the rest of the season, but Boston made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals, taking James and the Cavaliers to seven games.
Kyrie in 2017: I wanna be the man, I don't want to be the number 2 guy.
Celtics in 2018 Playoffs (w/out Irving and Hayward): 11-8 (def. by Cavs in ECF)
Celtics in 2019 Playoffs (w/ Irving and Hayward): 5-4 (def. by Bucks in ECSF)
— 롈 (@JoshuaLler_) May 9, 2019
The following season was not as successful.
Boston won 49 games before losing 4-1 to Milwaukee in the second round.
Irving had a less than stellar postseason, shooting just 38.5% from the field and 31% from deep – both career worsts.
That would be the last time Irving suited up in the green and white as he signed with Brooklyn that offseason.
Celtics Fans Feel Irving Betrayed Them
A star player wanting to leave their team is nothing new in the NBA.
But it was Irving’s antics leading up to his departure that rubbed fans the wrong way.
After the potential displayed in the 2017-18 season, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics.
During a season-ticket holder event at TD Bank before the 2018-19 season, Irving made a statement to the crowd.
“If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here,” Kyrie declared.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 4, 2018
That was followed by a Nike commercial that showed Irving and his dad playing one-on-one in TD Garden.
Kyrie narrated the commercial, describing his childhood and how he wanted his No. 11 jersey to be retired by Boston.
Fans had reason to believe Irving was here to stay and build a contender with Tatum, Brown, and Hayward.
Fast forward to around the All-Star break, and the mood started to change.
Then there was the video from All-Star weekend of Irving and Durant speaking in a hallway.
“The All Star game video – where they caught us in the hallway. That’s when it was solidified that we were going somewhere. They didn’t know for a fact where it was. But it was somewhere.”
–@KDTrey5 on teaming up with Kyrie
Via The ETCs of @boardroom
— Jared Gaon (@JaredGaon) September 29, 2020
Irving would try to shoot down the rumors after, but Durant confirmed that was the moment their plan to unite somewhere was set in place.
After all of that, Irving had a chance to smooth everything over in the playoffs.
Instead, he laid an egg in the second round against Milwaukee.
Mired in a shooting slump, the Celtics were handed a gentleman’s sweep by the Bucks.
Not only did Kyrie double back on his public statement about wanting to re-sign, but he also seemingly threw in the towel when it mattered most.
Celtics fans have held a grudge ever since.