Mavericks' Kyrie Irving Trying to Silence The 'Self-Doubt' in Return to Boston, Game 5

Irving struggled in the first two games of the NBA Finals but will have to play better if the Mavs want to stay alive
Jun 12, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) walks off the court after their loss against the Boston Celtics in game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) walks off the court after their loss against the Boston Celtics in game three of the 2024 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

When Kyrie Irving stepped off the parquet floor in Boston in Game 2, he told Celtics fans he'd be back for Game 5 and see them there. Facing a 2-0 deficit, it was a bold claim to make for the former Celtic, but a Game 4 win extended the series another game and the Mavs will play in Boston Monday night.

The first two games of the series were rough for Irving, as he averaged 14 PPG while shooting 35.1% from the floor. Games 3 and 4 were much better; 28 PPG while shooting 50% from the floor, including 35 points in Game 3. Game 4, an obliteration of the league's top team, was Irving's first win against the Celtics since the 2021 playoffs, a stretch of 13 games between losses.

That's the first obstacle Irving had to overcome, now he has to beat the Celtics in Boston, not only to extend the series back to Dallas but to help him silence his self-doubt.

READ MORE: Mavericks' Jason Kidd Says They're 'Going To Need' Tim Hardaway Jr. in Game 5

"I think in order to silence even the self-doubt, let alone the crowd doubt, but the self-doubt," Irving responded in a press conference on Sunday when asked about the pressures of playing in Boston. "When you make or miss shots that's just as important as making sure I'm leading the team in the right way and being human through this experience too and telling them how I feel. I've had a few teammates be in this building with me on wins and losses, so I know what it feels like for both, I try to pay attention to the positive things that got us wins here early in my career and also thinking about the things I can learn from throughout the performances that I've had here where I didn't play up to par."

Irving's history with Boston fans is well-documented. From stomping on the midcourt logo, cussing out and flipping off fans, and burning sage in the arena, it's not a surprise that he gets booed as loud as any player in the NBA when he steps into TD Garden. He knows he has to respond better in that building and has even said as much to his superstar teammate, Luka Doncic.

For Dallas to overcome the 3-1 deficit, it starts with Kyrie playing at his absolute best. Many will remember him in this position in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers when he scored 41 points to help guide the team to victory on the road against a historically good team. They'd go on to win that series as he hit one of the more iconic shots in NBA history. He just has to take it one game further, since the Mavs initially started down 3-0.

Luka Doncic has said his team will continue to believe and take it one game at a time, now it's time for Irving to use his veteran leadership and help the team step up on the road.

The Mavericks are 7-4 on the road in these Playoffs, but 0-2 in this series. A win and the pressure is put back on Boston as Game 6 heads to Dallas. A loss and the Mavs' season is over.

READ MORE: NBA's Finals MVP Ladder Has Two Dallas Mavericks In Top 5 After Game 4

Stick with MavericksGameday for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks throughout the NBA Finals

Follow MavericksGameday on Twitter and Austin Veazey on Twitter


Published
Austin Veazey

AUSTIN VEAZEY

Austin Veazey joined NoleGameday as the Lead Basketball Writer in 2019, while contributing as a football writer, and started as editor for MavericksGameday in 2024. Veazey was a Florida State Men’s Basketball Manager from 2016-2019. Follow Austin on Twitter at @EasyVeazeyNG