Does Kevin Durant's injury make a Kyrie Irving return to Boston more likely?

Does Kevin Durant's injury make a Kyrie Irving return to Boston more likely?

It seems crass to think of anything but the long-term well-being of Kevin Durant after he suffered an Achilles injury Monday night after rushing himself back to game action with the goal of keeping the Golden State Warriors’ season alive. Alas, here’s the sobering reality: The NBA offseason just got dealt a curveball that could radically alter how this summer’s game of high-stakes musical chairs plays out.

If Durant tore his Achilles during Monday’s game, it would seemingly put his entire 2019-20 season in jeopardy. Golden State general manager Bob Myers fought back tears during an impromptu postgame press conference in which he noted that Durant would undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the severity of his Achilles injury.

Even with the prospects of missing extended time, Durant might still have a bevy of deep-pocketed suitors eager to sign him to a long-term deal. But he’d also have to give great consideration to simply opting into the final year of his current pact, one that’s scheduled to pay him $31.5 million next season, forcing the Warriors to foot the bill of his recovery after he sacrificed himself for the team.

Here’s the impact for Boston: If Durant and Kyrie Irving were truly intrigued by the potential of pairing up this summer, Durant’s injury could force an audible. Is Irving as eager to take his talents to New York — whether it’s the Knicks or Nets — if Durant can’t play next season? Might Irving be more inclined now to sign, say, a short-term 1-and-1 deal in Boston and then both he and Durant could reevaluate their respective futures after the 2019-20 season?

It’s always felt like Durant’s decision would have a domino effect among star players this summer. Maybe it still will, but there’s a lot more for players to ponder.

All of which adds a bit more intrigue to what happens with Anthony Davis in the ramp-up to next week’s NBA Draft. If Durant’s injury gives Irving even more reason to consider staying in Boston, then the Celtics going all-in to acquire Davis could ensure Irving stays here.

That would leave an awful lot riding on the 2019-20 season for the Celtics, who could potentially be trying to sell both Irving and Davis on a long-term future here with the potential that both could bolt if things went awry. That said, it’s probably a dice roll that Danny Ainge is willing to make.

Remember, not only would the Warriors be diminished by Durant’s absence but the East wouldn’t be as daunting as it might have been if Durant formed a super team in the conference.

Ainge’s words from his press conference last week reverberate loudly in the aftermath of Durant’s injury.

"There's always risk in making deals,” said Ainge. "We’re not afraid of risk.”

Maybe Durant’s injury emboldens Ainge even more. Maybe Durant’s injury alters Davis’ wish list of teams, which hasn’t included Boston since the start of his trade request. (Quick tangent: Davis not having the Celtics on his wishlist might actually give Boston a bit of leverage as they try to retain as much talent as possible in any negotiations as Ainge can cling hard to the flight risk potential if Pelicans new GM David Griffin is trying to pry more assets).

The summer of 2019 won’t lack for intrigue and Durant’s injury might have just shuffled the deck before any of the the craziness even started.

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Celtics vs. Wizards live stream: Watch 2020 NBA seeding game online

Celtics vs. Wizards live stream: Watch 2020 NBA seeding game online

The Boston Celtics will conclude their NBA seeding game schedule Thursday with an afternoon matchup against the Washington Wizards.

The C's have won four consecutive games and five of their second seeding contests overall, and the team's performance in these matchups has been pretty encouraging. The team's best players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker all have played well. Several of the team's younger players also have shown they deserve a look come playoff time, including second-year center Robert Williams.

Williams could get extended playing time versus the Wizards. He scored 10 points in just 14 minutes during Tuesday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, and the 2018 first-round pick is averaging 13.5 points in the four seeding games he's played in. 

There are no playoff implications in Boston's last seeding game. The C's already locked up the No. 3 seed and will play the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1. That said, this game against the Wizards is an important one for the C's to ensure they enter the playoffs firing on all cylinders.

NBC Sports Boston has you covered with complete coverage of Celtics vs. Wizards, starting at 11 a.m. ET with "Celtics Pregame Live". Tip-off is scheduled for noon on NBC Sports Boston, with complete postgame analysis after the final buzzer on "Celtics Postgame Live."



BEFORE THE GAME: At 11 a.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Brian Scalabrine, Kendrick Perkins, Abby Chin, Chris Forsberg and A. Sherrod Blakely. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Celtics Halftime Live. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.



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2020 NBA Playoffs: Celtics will play rival 76ers in first round

2020 NBA Playoffs: Celtics will play rival 76ers in first round

A new chapter in one of basketball's best rivalries will be written in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

The Boston Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1. It will be the first playoff series between these teams since Boston beat Philly in a five-game Eastern Conference semifinals in 2018.

The matchup became official Wednesday night when the Indiana Pacers beat the Houston Rockets, which locked the Sixers into the No. 6 seed. The Celtics secured the No. 3 seed earlier this week. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston will play the Washington Wizards on Thursday afternoon in its final seeding game. Philly has two more seeding games remaining -- Wednesday night versus the Toronto Raptors and Friday night against the Rockets.

The Sixers might not be at full strength against the Celtics in Round 1. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons recently left the NBA bubble to have surgery on his knee, and he's reportedly expected to miss the rest of the season. Philadelphia's All-Star center, Joel Embiid, injured his left ankle against the Portland Trail Blazers last Sunday and didn't play Tuesday, but he reportedly will return to the lineup Wednesday night.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Here are the updated seeds for the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Miami Heat and Pacers still haven't locked in their exact seeds, but they will be the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup in Round 1. Miami needs one win in its final two seeding games to clinch the No. 4 seed.

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Boston Celtics
4. Miami Heat
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Philadelphia 76ers
7. Brooklyn Nets
8. Orlando Magic