Former Duke and Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will miss the 2018 NBA playoffs according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
In the aftermath of left knee surgery, Boston Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs, league sources told ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 5, 2018
Just Wednesday, NESN.com reported there were reasons to be optimistic about Irving eventually returning during the playoffs. Irving underwent knee surgery on March 24, but an orthopedic specialist with Southcoast Health told NBC Sports Boston that Irving was showing good signs of improvement.
But John Goodman of ESPN reports Irving will undergo another surgery.
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will undergo surgery Saturday to remove two screws implanted in his patella from an injury suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals. Expected to make a full recovery in 4-5 months.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 5, 2018
This news changes the entire complexion of the NBA playoffs.
The Celtics sit in second place in the Eastern Conference just three games behind the Toronto Raptors for first with a week left of the regular season. Boston is ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers by five games and each team has four contests remaining.
But while the Cavaliers can’t catch the Celtics by next week, the presumption is without Irving, LeBron James has a clear path back to the NBA Finals. James has led his team to the finals a whopping seven straight years, and many experts don’t predict the Raptors or the Celtics without Irving will be equipped to knock off “King James.”
Ironically, Irving helped James win his most recent championship with the Cavaliers in 2016.
Irving played 11 games for Duke during the 2010-11 season before becoming the No. 1 overall pick for Cleveland in June 2011. In those 11 games with Duke, Irving averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals.