One of the biggest storylines heading into this year’s NBA Finals was how Kyrie Irving would handle a hostile Celtics crowd, and the consensus after Game 1 was he did so very poorly.

Boston routed the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden on Thursday night to strike first in the best-of-seven series. Irving scored 12 points off 6-for-19 shooting as he was unable to provide support for Luka Doncic.

While the broadcast didn’t show it, Irving got into a verbal spat with a Celtics fan during the game, according to iconic play-by-play man Mike Gorman. That seemed to affect the All-NBA star’s performance, and Stephen A. Smith also felt the crowd got into Irving’s head.

“When you go and a crowd has venom for you like Boston has him because he’s supposed to be in a Boston Celtics uniform. He was supposed to be the one helping them there,” Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” on Friday. “And he left, and he went to Brooklyn. And he engaged in the histrionics and stepping on the parquet floor and the leprechaun and doing all this stuff after he departed and everything like that. You knew there was going to be vitriol aimed at his direction. And they clearly booed him. That’s all they did. But they booed the living hell out of him.

Story continues below advertisement

“… I also think the environment played a role because we have to remind the audience. Boston, TD Bank Garden, for a Celtics game is one of the best environments in all of sports. … When you roll up into Boston, them peeps are ready to support their team. And they will distract. You got to be strong mentally, and your focus has to be elevated to offset the venom and the hostility they throw in your direction because they are aiming to distract you to benefit their team. And I thought (Thursday), Kyrie didn’t come as ready as we expected, which I found a bit disappointing because you played there as a member of their team and as a visitor. You know better than most what that environment entails.”

Smith also credited Boston’s defense for doing its part to hold down Doncic and Irving, but all eyes will be on how Irving responds in Game 2 on Sunday as the Celtics look to take a 2-0 series lead.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images