Kyrie Irving suffered a facial fracture in the first quarter of the Boston Celtics’ Friday night victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The injury forced him to miss the team’s Sunday night tilt (and win) against the Toronto Raptors. But that’s all the time it will cost him.
Irving is slated to return when the Celtics take on the Brooklyn Nets Tuesday night. He’ll wear a protective mask, as he’s done a couple times before during his career, and Boston head coach Brad Stevens isn’t worried about the potential for him to re-aggravate the injury, per ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg:
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that if Irving deems himself ready, he has no apprehension putting him back on the court.
“It’s just going to be pain tolerance, comfort with the mask, all that stuff,” said Stevens. “That would be between him and our medical staff. He went through everything this morning.”
Players laboring through facial fractures have always fascinated me. Like, this sounds as if it should be a fairly serious injury. You essentially broke your face. How is a protective mask really supposed to protect you? How does it let you work at high-octane speeds against 225-plus pound skyscrapers who are no strangers to whacking each other?
It does, obviously, because players work through these abrasions fairly frequently. Plus, I’m no doctor. Nor am I a supplier of medical products. Maybe the mask does a bang-up job of absorbing contact, without impairing one’s vision. Irving says, per Forsberg, that he doesn’t like playing in it, but he only identifies his sinuses as the real problem.
Maybe, then, the obstacles are more mental than anything. Will Irving drive to the basket as frequently? Take as many ridiculously angled shots? Surge through the heart of traffic in the half-court? We’ll have to wait and see.