Injuries Plagued Boston All Season
The major story line from the Celtics’ 2017-18 season was injuries. Recently acquired Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome ankle injury to begin the season. Kyrie Irving would miss the final 15 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs after undergoing another knee surgery in mid-March.
Irving’s procedure involved the removal of two screws which were implanted in his left patella after his knee fracture in the 2015 NBA Finals. The time-table for his return was originally set at four-five months. Luckily, he was cleared for basketball activities in late July.
Rising stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier all shined during their absences. They performed admirably but were not enough to dethrone LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. Now with LeBron out West and a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics have a great chance to reach the NBA Finals.
Irving Avoids Minutes Restriction
According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, Irving will be under no minutes restriction to begin the year, which is a great sign. It is interesting when you consider Irving’s injury history, as well as the Celtics’ depth, which includes Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis.
In 60-games last season, Irving reached career highs in field goal percentage (.491), 2-point field goal percentage (.541), and true shooting percentage (.610). His per-36-minute average of 27.3 points per game was also the highest of his career. This figure ranked fifth among qualified players behind only James Harden, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. Also, Irving’s win shares per-48-minutes (.221) ranked equal to that of former teammate LeBron James (.221). This shows how significant of an impact the 26-year-old can have.
Boston is Better With Kyrie
With Irving in the lineup, the Celtics record was 41-19. Without, the Celtics would go 9-6 in their remaining 15 regular season games and 11-8 in the playoffs. It is clear the Celtics are a superior team with him in the lineup. Avoiding a minutes restriction to begin the season is enormous. Irving’s health remains key for the team’s success moving forward. He will be a major player on their journey to banner number eighteen.
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