The Celtics surprised many last season when they surged to the top of the Eastern Conference despite a season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward. A huge part of that was the performance from Kyrie Irving, one that had him squarely in the MVP conversation. Irving posted 24.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting a career-high 49 percent - in just 32 minutes per game.
But the Celtics took another big blow when Irving's knee, in which he had previously torn his patella tendon, flared up. Irving had felt pain in the knee all season, and it finally became too much to bear. He left the game against the Pacers on March 11 at halftime and did not return for the rest of the season. The original diagnosis was "minor surgery" to remove a tension wire, but that turned into major surgery after an infection developed in the knee. What was going to be a three-to-six-week absence became the entire regular and postseason.
NBA.com's David Aldridge reported that sources told him Irving would "be under no minutes restrictions once the regular season begins." Irving was seen on video last week playing five on five in Miami and looking darn good doing it.
This is great news for Boston as it comes on the heels of Hayward saying that he was 100 percent. With Irving and Hayward healthy, the Celtics are the favorites in the Eastern Conference and poised to make another deep run in the playoffs.