It sounds like the Boston Celtics will have to carry on without Kyrie Irving for the duration of their upcoming four-game road trip.
They might even need to tread water without him for longer than that.
Leading up to the Celtics’ Tuesday night win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tony Massarotti of 98.5 The Sports Hub brought word that the point guard would seek a second opinion on a left knee injury that has sidelined him for the team’s past four games:
My understanding is that Kyrie Irving is getting a 2nd opinion on his left knee, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Bottom line: he needs the screws out. Knee is flaring up. He will either play thru it going forward or … he will get thee screws out and won't play at all. Stay tuned.
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) March 20, 2018
Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania delivered additional context on the matter shortly thereafter:
With the lack of progress on his ailing left knee, Boston Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will get a second opinion on the injury later this week, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Irving, 25, has missed the past three games for the Celtics to rest the knee. There was hope last week that Irving would return Sunday against New Orleans, but he remained out. Because of the lack of comfort in Irving’s knee, there is no set date for his return, league sources said.
ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski also went on to add this:
There remains no structural damage in Irving's sore left knee, league sources tell ESPN. Belief is still rest is the best remedy for his eventual return. https://t.co/8iMGkb9OHT
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 20, 2018
That there’s reportedly no structural damage in Irving’s knee is great news. But his overall outlook feels less than rosy.
Celtics team president Danny Ainge recently noted that Irving would eventually need to have surgery on his knee—the same one he injured during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2015 NBA Finals run. At the time, though, he made it seem like the Celtics were resting him out of pure precaution and luxury, and that he would be well-rested and ready to rock for the playoffs.
Perhaps that’s what this second opinion is—another extra precaution. The Celtics, after all, aren’t catching the first-place Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference and are in no danger of surrendering the No. 2 seed to the Cavaliers or any other team. They can let Irving take it easy the rest of the way before unleashing him in time for the postseason.
Still, this latest development is hardly reassuring. The Celtics have shown they can grind out some victories without him—including Tuesday’s win over Oklahoma City—but they’ll be hard-pressed to make the Eastern Conference Finals as currently constructed at full strength. And if Irving isn’t available to start the postseason or close to 100 percent once he is, there’s a chance they get bounced in the first round.