Irving and the Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday to secure the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The victory sets up a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff matchup with the second-seeded Boston Celtics.
Irving will already be fired up facing his former team. Barkley gave the Nets point guard some added incentive with his postgame comments Tuesday night.
Charles Barkley gives Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets no chance to beat the Boston Celtics
Barkley isn’t shy about stating his opinion. Many outlandish comments have come from his mouth. He may have added another one Tuesday night at the conclusion of the Nets/Cavaliers game.
Barkley said Irving and the Nets don’t stand a chance against the Celtics.
“There’s no way they can beat the Celtics,” Barkley said. “They got two great players. They both actually played as good as they probably can play. Kevin Durant was fabulous with his passing and his defense. Kyrie was great. But other than that, I know they can’t beat the Celtics.
“All these fools on all these morning talk shows can let this ship sail. Both of those guys played great, great, and they barely beat a mediocre Cavs team.”
The Celtics have been the hottest team in the Eastern Conference since the end of January. After going 25-25 through the first 50 games, they ended the season 26-6 and shot their way up to the second seed.
The Nets are riding a hot streak as well, winning their last five games. Any team with Irving, Kevin Durant, and possibly a fresh Ben Simmons can compete with anyone.
Kyrie Irving doesn’t need the added motivation from Charles Barkley
Irving scored 34 points on 12-for-15 shooting from the floor in the win over the Cavs. He was on target all game. When he gets to Boston for Game 1 on Sunday, he’ll be the target from the Boston fans.
Irving played with the Celtics for two seasons. After telling the crowd he’d re-sign with the team when he arrived in Boston, he bolted after two uneventful seasons. He missed the playoff in his first season with a knee injury. The Milwaukee Bucks embarrassed Boston in the conference semifinals the following year when Irving’s was woeful.
Last season, the roles were reversed. The Celtics were the seventh seed and faced the Nets in Round 1. After winning the first two games in Brooklyn, the Nets dropped the first game in Boston as the crowd taunted Irving all game. Before making the trip, Irving made a comment, saying he hoped he didn’t hear any racist comments when he got back to Boston. The comment didn’t sit well with those n Boston.
“Hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball, you know there’s no belligerence or any racism going on, subtle racism, and people yelling sh*t from the crowd,” he said after Game 2, per WBZ-TV’s Joe Giza.
The Nets won Game 4, and Irving made waves by stomping on the Celtics logo at midcourt after the game. As he headed to the locker room, he had a water bottle thrown at his head.
There’s no love lost between Irving and the Celtics fans. Irving doesn’t need to be told his team can’t win the series. He had plenty of motivation to beat his former team.
Irving focused on the Celtics and nothing else
Irving knows he’ll be the center of attention as soon as he steps on the court at TD Garden. He knows it will be a challenge both to deal with the crowd and the Celtics players.
He’s focused on the latter.
“I know that team very well and they know us very well, and it’ll be a back and forth,” said Irving, per ESPN. “Once you throw that ball in the air, you’re going to really see some spectacular basketball.”
The last time these teams met this season, it was the Jayson Tatum Show.
Boston’s three-time All-Star outshined both Irving and Durant by scoring 54 points in a 126-120 victory in Boston.
The Celtics will enter the series as the favorite, but Barkley giving the Nets no shot is definitely a head-scratcher.