The Story: Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will seek a second opinion on his left knee after sitting out of Boston’s four most recent games (including Tuesday’s matchup with the Thunder) because of lingering soreness. His issues with the knee trace back to 2015, when he suffered a fracture in the NBA Finals that ultimately required surgery.
The Importance: Irving taking time off for knee soreness initially seemed more like a safeguard than an indication of anything serious. After sitting out the latter half of a loss to the Pacers on March 11, Irving told reporters that he was considering taking some time off.
“I think [rest] will probably be the best thing, just instead of kind of hoping it gets better over the two or three days that it usually does,” he said. Irving had tried that before, opting out of a game against the Bulls on March 5. He felt “comfortable” enough with where Boston was in the standings on March 12 to give his knee a rest, calling it a “luxury” of the regular season.
Three games later, it no longer looks as cut and dry—even though ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, via sources, that there is “no structural damage.” Boston radio host Tony Massarotti reported that Irving wants a second opinion because his nagging knee soreness is related to the screws inserted during surgery less than two years ago. His two options, per Massarotti, are either playing through the pain or having season-ending surgery to remove the irritants.
For what it’s worth, Irving was spotted on Tuesday at a Chipotle with Celtics GM Danny Ainge around the same time news first broke of Irving’s situation.
Kyrie Irving from the Celtics is in Chipotle. Cool. ☘ pic.twitter.com/FTdLbVideF— Jeremiah Poope (@bostonpoope) March 20, 2018
I don’t think this is the second opinion.
The Takeaway: Boston’s high postseason hopes are shot without Irving, or even with an Irving at less than 100 percent. The roster around him is also sprinkled with injuries. Reserve guard Marcus Smart is “confident” he’ll be back for the playoffs but was ruled out of the regular season after undergoing thumb surgery, Jaylen Brown is still in concussion protocol, and Daniel Theis is out for the remainder of the season. Without their best player, the Celtics are living on a Jayson Tatum prayer.