The Boston Celtics have already dealt with plenty of injury turmoil, including losing Gordon Hayward (broken ankle) in the first game of the season and Daniel Theis (knee surgery) last month. Now they can add star point guard Kyrie Irving to the mix.
The All-NBA player will miss the remainder of the 2017-18 NBA season and playoffs after having surgery to remove two screws from his patella and a tension wire. These are the same screws that were inserted into Irving’s knee after he fractured it in the 2015 NBA Finals.
Celtics officials said that a bacterial infection developed at the site of the screws after Irving had minor knee surgery on March 24. This was performed to take out a tension wire in his knee. He underwent a more-recent surgery to remove any remaining bacteria from the site.
The only good news is that Irving’s patella is completed healed following the surgery. But he won’t be at full strength for another 4-5 months.
Tension Wire Was Likely the Cause of Irving’s Season Long Pain
The team didn’t expect a bacterial infection to develop following the March knee surgery. But it’s also not totally unfounded for this to happen with knee-tension-wire procedures. The bacteria was a staph infection that’s resistant to antibiotic treatments, rather than the MRSA variety.
Coach Stevens Didn’t Know Irving’s Knee Injury would be So Severe
Celtics coach Brad Stevens spoke with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan about losing Irving for the season. And he was hoping to have his guard back within three weeks after the March 24 procedure.
“We thought [his return] would be closer to three weeks than six the way he was initially progressing.”
Irving originally thought about undergoing “minimally invasive surgery” earlier this year, rather than waiting until last month. But Stevens noted that nobody had any idea this is how things would turn out.
“There was no reason to think it was going to be an issue,” the coach said. “He had played with it for 2 and ahalf years. It’s the bacterial infection that’s the issue. My guess would be [the infection] was in there before and that’s how they found it.”
It appears that Irving will make a full recovery by next season. Stevens made it a point to say that the kneecap is “structurally sound” and shouldn’t be a problem next year.
“Everything around the knee is good,” Stevens said. “Everybody has told us from the get-go it was going to be a full recovery.”
What do the Celtics Have Left?
Boston has been hit by the injury bug throughout the entire season. Aside from losing Hayward, Irving, and Theis for the season, Marcus Smart is also recovering from a broken right thumb and “won’t be back for the foreseeable future.”
Terry Rozier, who’s averaging 11.3 points per game, will resume starting point guard duties without Irving. But he’s not happy about the reason why he’s taking over.
“I feel pretty bad for him,” said Rozier. “That’s my brother. I don’t wish that on nobody.”
Center Al Horford and forward Jayson Tatum also recently sat out games to rest their ailing bodies. And Rozier’s backup, point guard Shane Larkin, has been playing restricted minutes due to an illness.
This is definitely not how Boston wanted to enter their first postseason with a new-look roster. Many predicted big things for a team that featured Irving, Hayward, Horford, Tatum, Rozier, Smart, and Markieff Morris to open the season. Now it’s questionable how far they can make it with a patch-work squad that’s now missing multiple key players.
Nevertheless, Stevens stresses that he’s confident in the remaining roster’s ability to handle the challenge ahead.
“I believe in the guys in our locker room,” he said. “I think they believe in themselves. That’s the most important thing. We’ve got a tough group of guys in there.”
2018 Celtics Futures
The Celtics’ odds of winning both the Eastern Conference and NBA Championship have dropped dramatically following Irving’s surgery. This team is locked in as the East’s No. 2 seed at 54-25—five games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers with just three contests left.
Boston is guaranteed home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs if they make it this far. The word “if” is emphasized, because it’s hard telling how they’ll do without their 5-time All-Star point guard. They would play the No. 7 seed Milwaukee Bucks (42-37) if the playoffs started today.
Here’s a look at Celtics futures for both the conference and NBA Championship. Note that you can bet on these at GTBets.
2018 Eastern Conference Futures
- Cleveland +100
- Toronto +140
- Philadelphia +900
- Boston +1800
- Washington +3000
- Indiana +5000
- Miami +5000
- Milwaukee +5000
2018 NBA Championship Futures
- Golden State +100
- Houston +150
- Cleveland +850
- Toronto +1000
- Oklahoma City +3000
- Portland +3500
- Philadelphia +4000
- Boston +5000
- San Antonio +5000
- Indiana +15000
- Miami +15000
- Milwaukee +17500
- Minnesota +20000
- New Orleans +20000
- Utah +20000