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Attitude, not environment, key for Mavs in NBA Finals fightback – Irving

The Dallas Mavericks are down 1-0 in their NBA Championship finals series against the Boston Celtics. Photo: Maddie Meyer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Dallas star Kyrie Irving delivered another dud in Boston, but said his hostile reception from Celtics fans isn’t the major problem facing the Mavericks as they try to bounce back from an NBA Finals game one defeat.

“I thought it was going to be a little louder in here,” said Irving, who was roundly booed every time he touched the ball during the Celtics’ dominant 107-89 triumph on Thursday.

Irving played two seasons in Boston, arriving in a trade from Cleveland in 2017 after claiming the title alongside Cavaliers teammate LeBron James in 2016.

His departure after the 2018-19 season — after a pre-season pledge to stay — rankled fans who have let him hear it ever since.

“I’m expecting the same things going into game two — crowd trying to get me out of my element, my teammates out of my element,” Irving said.

“But, again, the energy has to be focused toward the game. I felt like I had  a lot of great looks. They hit back rim or were just a little left or right. Just got to stay confident and stay poised throughout this,” he said.

“This is the best time of the year to be playing. There’s only two teams left. Let’s put it in perspective.”

Amid the boos and the bad bounces, Irving finished with just 12 points on lackluster 6-of-19 shooting in 37 minutes in game one.

He missed all five of his three-point attempts, didn’t attempt a free throw and his three turnovers out-paced his two assists.

In fact, the Mavericks had just nine assists total in an anemic offensive display and on the defensive end couldn’t find a way to slow down a Celtics team that won a league-leading 64 regular-season games.

“They came out and hit us in the mouth early,” Irving said. “Got the home crowd going.

“When you get them rolling like that, they play a very easy game the rest of the game, and we’ve just got to hit them in the mouth a little bit.”

Irving has now lost 11 straight against his former team while with the Nets and Mavs.

“They have had my number a little bit,” Irving acknowledged, but insisted the Mavericks — led by Slovenian star Luka Doncic — have the talent to turn things around if they can step it up defensively.

They’ll try to silence the Boston crowd in game two of the best-of-seven series on Sunday.

“It’s not the booing and it’s not the missed shots,” Irving said. “It’s more or less our attitude and how we approach possession by possession.”

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