NEW YORK — The NBA playoffs have been littered with fan incidents over the past week, including the throwing of a water bottle at Nets guard Kyrie Irving following Brooklyn’s Game 4 win at TD Garden on Sunday.
The fan, 21-year old Cole Buckley of Braintree, will be arraigned in Boston Municipal Court on Wednesday.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens voiced his regret before Tuesday night’s Game 5, but he added that such behavior does not represent the large majority of Boston fans.
“With regard to Kyrie, I just think the other day I just echo what [Marcus] Smart and Jayson [Tatum] said,” Stevens said. “The bottle throwing is just unacceptable. It’s not part of the game. It’s not the way that anybody in this stadium, 99.9 percent of the people in the stadium, want to be represented. It’s just unacceptable. I’m glad that it was handled accordingly.”
After recent incidents involving fans in Salt Lake City, New York, and Philadelphia raised awareness, there was what occurred Sunday night in Boston, followed Monday night by a fan in Washington attempting to run onto the floor before being tackled during the 76ers-Wizards game.
“Understand that fans can bring a great deal of passion, and rightfully so, but it’s got to be within the confines of being respectful and recognizing that these guys are out there giving their all for their team,” Stevens said. “And regardless of who you are cheering for or not, they should be treated with dignity and respect. Throwing something at somebody is not OK.”
Nets coach Steve Nash said poor fan behavior is a complex issue that does not have a simple solution. There have been calls to prosecute any fans who break conduct roles at NBA games.
“It’s a hard thing to do, especially in the short term, to account for everyone in the stands,” he said. “This type of stuff is happening more frequently right now in an NBA playoff context, but this type of stuff has happened forever. It got a little cluster of events that aren’t acceptable, we’d like for that not to be part of the experience at games. But there’s not always a magic pill. I don’t know what we can do short term other than banning people.
“It might take some time before we find a solution to eradicate it. It’s happened forever. We just have a cluster right now and we hope it doesn’t become more of a trend, but there’s no quick solution.”
Nash did voice his overall appreciation for the Game 4 crowd at TD Garden.
“I thought other than the water bottle and maybe a few incidents I’m unaware of, I was extremely jealous of our guys to get to go out and play in front of that atmosphere,” he said. “So, I think our guys enjoyed it, and other than the few incidents the experience was great to play playoff basketball on the road with a full house.”
The Celtics entered Game 5, facing elimination, without Kemba Walker and Robert Williams, who were declared out 90 minutes before tipoff.
Williams, according to Stevens, is improving and was walking around the Barclays Center without his boot but is still experiencing pain in his sprained left ankle and turf toe. It’s uncertain whether he would be available for a potential Game 6 on Thursday.
Walker, in addition to left knee soreness, also has a bone bruise in the knee that he suffered in Game 2. He was able to push through the pain in Game 3 but is still experiencing discomfort and did not even hit the court before Game 5 to test the knee.
This is just the latest setback in what has been a disappointing season for Walker, who has played in 46 out of a possible 77 games because of knee management and various other injuries.
He has shot 42 percent from the floor during the regular season — his lowest mark since 2014-15 season with Charlotte — and he averaged 12.7 points on 31.7 percent shooting in the first three games of this series.
“I sat down with Kemba for a while and told him how badly I feel for him and how much we want him to feel better,” Stevens said. “When we talked about it, it doesn’t sound it’s as much as the knee that he’s been maintaining all year. It’s the bone bruise. It’s giving him fits. He gutted through that on Friday. I certainly feel for him.”
Williams has been besieged by various injuries, limited what was a breakthrough season for the third-year center. Williams suffered through COVID-19, knee issues, and finally a painful turf toe that derailed his impact on the postseason run.
“Whenever our season is over, he’s going to have to be off that foot to let it heal for however many weeks,” Stevens said. “With regard to the small stuff, the ankle, that’s not anything that that we are overly concerned about. We tried to manage his minutes at the start of the year appropriately so that he would feel great; especially coming off the 50 games he missed last year with the hip. From that point, he did. It’s just unfortunate he got the turf toe and the ankle.”
With Walker out again, Romeo Langford got his second consecutive start at shooting guard, with Marcus Smart moving to point guard … With Game 5 a potential elimination game, it marked what could be the final Celtic appearances for Evan Fournier, Luke Kornet, Semi Ojeleye, Tacko Fall, and Tremont Waters, all of whom are scheduled to become free agents this summer. Jabari Parker has a team option of $2.2 million for next season.