In the wake of Nets point guard Kyrie Irving’s comments about the TD Garden crowd and his looming return to Boston, as well as two incidents involving fans in playoff games Wednesday, Celtics guard Marcus Smart is hopeful that Boston’s fans act appropriately in Game 3 on Friday night.
“We want our fan base and our crowd to be very respectful of all players,” Smart said. “We’re out here to perform and entertain for the crowd. We just wanted to be respectful on both ends. We were kind of seeing around the league now with a couple other incidents with fans in the crowd. We don’t want our crowd to be like that. We want everybody to be respect on and off the court.”
Irving has yet to play in a game in front of fans at TD Garden since leaving to sign with the Nets after the 2018-19 season. After Brooklyn’s Game 2 win over the Celtics on Tuesday, Irving was asked what he expected the Boston crowd’s reaction to be when he returned.
“I’m just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully we can just keep it strictly basketball,” he said. “There’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism, or people yelling [expletive] from the crowd.”
Smart said he has heard Celtics fans cross the line before, and he does not want it to happen again.
“It’s kind of sad and sickening,” he said. “Even though it’s an opposing team, we’ve had guys on your home team that you’re saying these racial slurs and you expect us to go out here and play for you. It’s tough. Like I said, we just want everyone to be respectful, on and off the court. We want that same respect that we give to fans and the crowd to come out here and put on a good show and not to interfere in that type of manner with them. We expect the same in return from us.”
On Wednesday, a 76ers fan dropped popcorn on the head of Wizards star Russell Westbrook as he walked off the court in Philadelphia after suffering an injury in Game 2 of that playoff series. Later that night, a Knicks fan spit on Hawks star Trae Young during Game 2 of that series at Madison Square Garden. On Thursday, both fans were indefinitely banned from attending games at those arenas.
Russell Westbrook appeared to have popcorn poured on his head by a fan on his way to the locker room with an apparent injury.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 27, 2021
The fan was ejected from the game. pic.twitter.com/WgtvKMFYHH
“Just seeing how the fans acted in New York with the Trae Young situation and obviously with Westbrook — I love our fans and I think it’s just a certain way fans should act while still enjoying the game and cheering for their respective teams,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “I think that’s what I feel like [Irving] was alluding to. Obviously, there are going to be chants against him, but I guess he was just talking about keeping it basketball, which I think most people should understand.”
Tatum gets clearance
Tatum has been cleared to play in Game 3 after being poked in the eye by Nets star Kevin Durant in the third quarter of Boston’s Game 2 loss. “I’m fine,” Tatum said. “I got it checked out and looked at. I’m good. I’m ready for tomorrow.” … Celtics point guard Kemba Walker is questionable for Friday’s game because of a bone bruise on his left knee.
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