Before Saturday's preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics came the unusual sight of Kyrie Irving burning sage on the TD Garden court.

But Irving and his Nets team-mates are insistent the process, known as smudging, has nothing to do with any ill will he has towards his former team.

Irving has Native American heritage and was two years ago inducted into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His late mother, Elizabeth, was a member of the same tribe.

Explaining his smudging of the court before his first game at TD Garden since leaving the Celtics, Irving said: "It just comes from a lot of native tribes.

"Being able to sage, just cleanse the energy, make sure that we're all balanced. When we come into this job, we come into this place, it's not anything that I don't do at home that I did today. I saged last game, and I plan to sage almost every game if the opposing team will allow me to.

"But, literally, it's more or less for us to stay connected and for us to feel great about going to work and feeling safe and provided for from our ancestors.

"I'm not going to bring too much of the spirituality into basketball, but yeah, it's part of my native culture where I'm from."

Team-mate Kevin Durant told ESPN: "That's his thing. Kyrie probably sages his room before he plays 2K when he gets home.

"That's just what he does. That gives us good energy. He does it in the locker room. That's his thing, and we all respect him. We respect his method, and he comes out here and plays extremely hard for us."

The Nets used the good energy to claim a 113-89 victory and will hope Irving's ritual produces similar results when Brooklyn face Durant's former team, the Golden State Warriors, in their regular-season opener at Barclays Center on Tuesday.