#NEBHInjuryReport: Shane Larkin (shoulder sprain) is “very, very sore,” says Brad Stevens. “He’s out for tonight and the foreseeable future, but imaging suggested that surgery probably won’t be needed.”
Boston with Smart at point guard in the regular season:
Offensive rating: 100.3 (bad)
Defensive rating: 91.5 (great)
Net rating: +8.8 (good)
This makes sense. Smart is an excellent defender, and using him at point guard allows the Celtics to put another bigger, better defender on the court. Smart’s lackluster scoring hurts more when the ball is in his hands more.
Larkin’s injury means Boston loses to ability to selectively deploy Smart at point guard, as the Celtics could during the regular season, probably boosting their numbers with him there.
Facing even more injury woes, Boston must just use its dwindling supply of players and hope for the best.
This Saturday, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will undergo a procedure to remove two screws implanted in his left patella after the patellar fracture he suffered during the NBA Finals in 2015. Following a mid-March procedure to remove a tension wire that had been implanted at the same time as the screws, pathology indicated the presence of a bacterial infection at the site of the hardware. To ensure that no infection remains in the knee, the screws will be removed. The fracture in Irving’s patella has completely healed, and his knee remains structurally sound. He is expected to make a full recovery in 4-5 months.
This will shut down any thoughts of Irving returning in the playoffs. There will be questions of whether he’s ready for the start of training camp.
The Celtics gave a timeline on Kyrie Irving’s knee injury that would have him back around the start of the playoffs or several weeks later.
Turns out, he’ll miss the entire postseason.
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.
This is devastating to Boston, which falls from a legitimate Eastern Conference challenger to a team susceptible to losing in the first round. The Celtics will still probably finish with the No. 2 seed, but without Irving, they’re not necessarily better than the Heat, Bucks or Wizards – potential first-round foes.
Irving joins Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis as Boston players listed as done for the season. Like with Hayward, rumors could still emerge about Irving returning if the Celtics advance far enough. Today’s leak could be about Boston trying to preemptively shut down speculation and questions about Irving’s availability. But winning a series or two obviously becomes far more difficult without those stars.
This also opens the door to questions about Irving’s long-term health. His knee is a reoccurring issue, and he and the team must manage it. This might cause the Celtics to retain Marcus Smart in restricted free agency and/or extend Terry Rozier‘s contract this offseason.
Boston isn’t finished. Brad Stevens is an excellent coach who gets everyone to understand and embrace their roles. Al Horford is a star. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are emerging.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, this was a positive year for the Celtics – acquiring Irving and Hayward, seeing Tatum, Brown and Rozier develop. The Cavaliers still have LeBron James, and the Raptors have extended their window through a “culture reset.” Boston can afford to take the long view.
With the available talent diminishing, the Celtics now look more like a lower seed than their 53-25 record would suggest. They play hard and cohesively, but goes only so far in the playoffs. They acquired Irving to put them over the top in those situations – but that must wait.
Three Things to Know: Raptors stave off creeping doubt
Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) The Raptors got a much-needed win over the Celtics. Toronto had lost five of eight, including two straight – to the Celtics and Cavaliers, its chief competition in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors had been the East’s best team throughout the season. A “reset” offense and a deep bench seemingly had them poised for playoff success. But this late skid instilled plenty of doubt in a team that has disappointed annually in the postseason.
A 96-78 win over Boston ought to calm panic in Toronto.
This wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Raptors played with more purpose. They defended more aggressively, kept the ball moving and relied on balanced contributions. Kyle Lowry made a positive impact the day after his dud against Cleveland, which followed him going to San Antonio to watch Villanova win the national championship. The reserves came up big.
These weren’t necessarily the Celtics that Toronto would face in the postseason. Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Shane Larkin were out. Boston used 11 players through three quarters.
But that only increased the impetus for the Raptors to win.
They didn’t prove anything last night. This team can’t do that until the playoffs, anyway. But at least Toronto stopped the bleeding (of a boo-boo that probably looked worse than it actually was).
2) The Mavericks out-tanked the Magic. Dallas’ 105-100 loss to Orlando might wind up last night’s most significant game on the NBA’s long-term landscape. The defeat dropped the Mavericks (24-55) ahead of the Magic (24-54) in the tight tank race.
But Gordon (20 points in 26 minutes) did too much in his limited playing time and got the Magic the unneeded win.
3) The Spurs fell to the Lakers, but at least remain in playoff position. Last night’s games otherwise featured chalk between a team in the playoff race and a team not – 76ers over Pistons, Heat over Hawks, Pelicans over Grizzlies. But San Antonio fell to Los Angeles, 122-112, in overtime.
The Lakers, without their own draft picks this year, are still feisty. They’ve got nothing to tank for. Kyle Kuzma scored 30 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (21 points on nine shots) and Channing Frye (19 points on nine shots) were remarkably efficient.
The Spurs still haven’t clinched a playoff berth, so a loss to an eliminated team is a real letdown.
The Western Conference playoff-race standings now:
4. Utah Jazz (45-33)
5. Oklahoma City Thunder (45-34)
5. San Antonio Spurs (45-34)
7. Minnesota Timberwolves (44-34)
7. New Orleans Pelicans (44-34)
9. Denver Nuggets (43-35)
10. Los Angeles Clippers (42-36)
Tonight will feature a couple big games – Clippers at Jazz and Timberwolves at Nuggets.
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown hits game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Jazz (video)
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is the king of after-timeout plays. He dialed up a good one with Boston and Utah tied and the shot clock off in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
The Celtics went small, forcing Jazz center Rudy Gobert – an excellent defender, but someone more comfortable inside than on the perimeter – to defend forward Semi Ojeleye. Ojeleye cut to the 3-point arc, and Gobert stayed in the paint to stifle a driving Shane Larkin. Larkin kicked to a wide open Ojeleye, and Utah’s defense scrambled. That left Jaylen Brown, a better 3-point shooter, open. Ojeleye passed to Brown, who hit the game-winner with 0.3 seconds left.
Boston’s 97-94 lead stood up as the final score when Donovan Mitchell missed on the other end.
Al Horford hits game-winning shot as Rockets melt down (VIDEO)
The Houston Rockets led by 24 points going into the half on Thursday night over the Boston Celtics.
Then, it all came crashing down.
Houston’s offense stalled, and the Rockets scored just 16 points in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Boston rebounded to have two consecutive 30+ point quarters to close the game after starting with just 12 points in the first period.
Boston’s Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin were huge off the bench, the scrappy backcourt players hounding Houston’s guards and slowing the beginning of offensive sets by picking up dribblers before halfcourt.
The game wound up coming down to the wire in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and two huge errors by James Harden helped Boston seal the victory.
Officials had been spotty all evening with calling fouls on extended arms. That changed with under ten seconds left, as Harden was called for two offensive fouls as the Rockets tried to inbound the ball. The first offensive foul gave Boston the ball with seven seconds left, and let Al Horford hit the game-winning shot.