Nearly 5,000 fans were at TD Garden in Boston as the Nets dropped Game 3 of their series against the Celtics on Friday.
That number could come close to quadrupling in Game 4 on Sunday, with the Celtics opening their building to “near-capacity” for the first time since last year.
The team spoke after Friday’s game about effort level and physicality, elements that were buoyed for the Celtics due to the home crowd. With a packed house set for Game 4, Joe Harris isn’t worried about how he and his teammates will respond.
“It was a great atmosphere [on Friday], even though it wasn’t a full arena,” Harris said. “It’s exciting, this is what playoff basketball is all about. The atmosphere in Barclays was incredible and tomorrow night will be an awesome atmosphere as well.”
Unsurprisingly, it was former Celtic Kyrie Irving who drew the majority of the fans’ ire on Friday, and the guard was more than happy to engage them from the get-go.
As early as pregame warmups, Irving egged the crowd on, encouraging them to boo and jeer louder. Though Irving shot just 6-for-17 for 16 points on Friday, head coach Steve Nash isn’t going to connect the dots between the raucous crowd and Irving’s performance.
“I know [Irving] didn’t have his typical game,” Nash said. “But I don’t want to make any correlation to the fans and him having that game. Players don’t always play to their level, so I don’t want to make any conclusions that it was because of all the other chatter. We know how good he is, we know he can handle that environment and we know that he can play much better in Game 4.”
Nash also said if getting into it with the crowd is what Irving needs to be at his best, then he has no issues with the interaction.
“If that’s what gets him going,” Nash said. “You’ve got to be yourself. Some players really come alive in that moment and some players don’t. I’m not against it if that’s what gets him going.”
With capacity of TD Garden listed at 19.156 for Celtics games, it’s not expected that there will be too many fewer than that ready to let Irving and the Nets hear it. The only question that remains is how the Nets will respond.