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Dan Shaughnessy

Celtics season can’t end soon enough, and now Kyrie Irving has Boston on notice

Kyrie Irving, who scored 15 points in Game 2, said he hoped he would not encounter racism upon his return to Boston for Game 3.Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

It just keeps getting worse. The Celtics’ season needs to end. The C’s were embarrassed by the Nets, 130-108, in Game 2 Tuesday.

And then Kyrie Irving lit a match and dropped an R-bomb on Boston in his postgame Zoomer.

The ever-combustible Irving will be back in Boston Friday and inflamed his visit after Game 2 when he said, “Hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball, no belligerence or subtle racism and people yelling [expletive] from the crowd. Even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game.”

Irving doubled down on the Boston-as-racist theme, saying, “I’m not the only one that can attest to this. The whole world knows it.”


Wow. We just went from bad to really bad.

Can we just put this Celtic season out of its misery now?

Truly. Do the Celtics have to play two more games against the Nets? Can’t we just call the whole thing off now?

Boston Basketball’s Season of the Witch staggered toward its inevitable conclusion Tuesday when the Celtics failed to show up and were routed in Game 2 in Brooklyn. In a game that should have been played at Rucker Park, the Celtics watched the Nets score 25 points in the first six minutes (a 200-point pace!), fell behind, 40-26 after one, and 71-47 at halftime. It was the second-largest halftime playoff deficit in franchise history.

Speaking for all of Celtic Nation, former Boston champion Kendrick Perkins went on TV at intermission and said the Celtics had “thrown in the towel” and the first 24 minutes were “disgraceful to watch." After the game, Perkins said, “the Celtics fight and spirit were disturbing to watch."

Let me second that emotion. For the full four quarters the Celtics played this one like a team eager to end their season. Not even Scal could Baghdad Bob this one. What a beating!


Brooklyn's Blake Griffin dunks in front of three Celtics during the ifrst quarter of Tuesday's game.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Celtic coach Brad Stevens set the tone for the series before Game 1 when he took stock of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden and stated, “Those guys are the best of the best. Going into that as a fan — a general fan of the NBA — I have a hard time seeing them lose."

Not exactly “Win One for the Gipper” or “Remember the Titans." It’s hard to imagine Red Auerbach making such a concession before the start of a series. And since the first half of Game 1, Stevens’s team has played like a team that knows it has no chance.

Golly Gee Brad is certainly a realist. Harden, Irving, Durant and Harris are simply too much for an underachieving Boston team that went 36-36 during the regular season and is playing without Jaylen Brown. Adding injury to insult, Jayson Tatum got poked in the eye early in the second half and disappeared for the night. Tatum has been nearly invisible in these two games: 63 minutes, 9 for 32 from the floor (28 percent) with seven rebounds. Tatum’s plus-minus Tuesday: minus 28.

Asked about Tatum’s eye injury, Stevens said, “He got scratched pretty good. It looks pretty red. I don’t know what the diagnosis is. Obviously, he’s not comfortable right now."

“We have to do a better job with spacing for Jayson, so he can knock down shots," said Celtic guard Evan Fournier. “Game 3 for us is obviously kind of a life-and-death situation."


Before Game 2, center Tristan Thompson, who won a ring with Irving and LeBron in Cleveland said, “Take a team with Durant, Harden and Irving and you better step on the court feeling good about yourself. But we don’t give a [expletive] about that. I think they put their socks on, their shoes on just like us. So we’re not intimidated or anything like that."

The Celtics looked more lethargic than intimidated. They were pathetic. Boston played matador defense, and the Nets had their way at both ends. Brooklyn scored 18 points in one three-minute stretch of the first quarter. Boston’s best defensive play was goaltending. The Celtics were masters of goaltending.

Jayson Tatum drives to the basket against Kevin Durant in the first quarter Tuesday night.Kathy Willens/Associated Press

“They disrupted us on both ends," said Stevens. “They were terrific. We’ve got to be way better. I was disappointed in how we played versus the other night . . . Defensively we missed too many coverages . . . We have to clean that up . . . We need to be way more solid defensively. We’ll go back to work and see what we can do personnel-wise and scheme-wise and see if we can do better in Game 3."

Something needs to happen with this team. They have been fat and happy for too long. They carry themselves like they have accomplished something when they have not. Running into the Nets in the playoffs has exposed them for what they are.

Game 3 is Friday night at the Garden. Celtic fans can’t wait to boo Kyrie. Let’s hope this is not ugly, not polluted by anything other than basketball hard feelings.


There was no honor in the way Kyrie Irving left town. But Boston needs to be on its best behavior Friday. Kyrie just changed the rules of engagement.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @dan_shaughnessy.