Kyrie Irving isn't playing for the Nets on Wednesday night. In fact, he's not even with the team in Boston.
But Celtics fans didn't seem to care.
As the Nets and Celtics matched up at TD Garden in a game that was supposed to be Irving's first trip back to Boston since leaving the Celtics for the Nets in free agency, the Boston fans had a lot to say about their former point guard.
During the first quarter, loud "Kyrie sucks!" chants broke out throughout the TD Garden.
There were also posters and billboards put up around the city focusing on the six-time All-Star, with some even calling him a "coward."
Wednesday's game is the seventh straight that Irving has missed due a shoulder impingement injury. He also missed this past Sunday's game in New York, which would have been his first game at Madison Square Garden since choosing the Nets over the Knicks in free agency.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson expected a loud reaction to Irving on Wednesday, even without him being in the building.
"If I wear a bad tie, there's reaction from the crowd here," Atkinson told reporters. "You know, it's Boston...They're passionate, and much like New York, there can be some ribbing in there, and you know, that's part of it."
Celtics coach Brad Sevens, meanwhile, said before the game that the fans' criticism of Irving was unfair, and that anything the Celtics failed to accomplish with Irving on the team was a total team effort.
"We've said many times that whatever we didn't achieve that we wanted to achieve as a team is on the team," Stevens said. "That's not for one person. That has been very well documented. And I've also said many times that I enjoyed Kyrie and wish him nothing but the best. I think that everybody that was on that team last year will be better because of that experience."
"I think that is one of the things that, unfortunately, when you're really, really good at something, the level of scrutiny is even higher. And you know he's one of the best players in the NBA. And the level of scrutiny is unfair, but it comes with the territory of all those guys. And I just think that's why it's so important we constantly remind ourselves how good they are. The way people talked about his time -- I mean, he was second team All-NBA last year. He was ridiculous the year before."