BOSTON — Celtics coach Brad Stevens said it’s “killing” Kyrie Irving not to be on the floor for the Eastern Conference finals against his former team, but stressed that the injured All-Star point guard is in a “great place” as he recovers from last month’s knee surgery.
Irving had hardware removed from a balky left knee in early April, ending his first season with the Celtics. Boston acquired Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers in August in a jaw-dropping swap between East rivals.
Riddick: ‘Owners trying to protect their bottom line’
Stephen A.: ‘Houston refused to go away’
Washington’s miserable history in winner-take-all games
Castroneves remembers close Indy 500 losses the most
The Celtics and Cavaliers are tied at 2 entering Wednesday night’s Game 5 of the conference finals.
“In our sit-downs, or just our casual conversations, he seems to be in a great place,” Stevens said. “It’s killing him not to be out on the floor. But I think that would be the case, obviously, any time you’re playing this deep into the playoffs, especially in a new place. Other than that, his recovery is going great. We’re excited about that. But he seems to be in a good place.”
Irving earned All-Star honors while guiding the Celtics through much of what would be a 55-win campaign. His knee forced him to shut down in mid-March and, after a minimally invasive procedure wasn’t enough to get him back on the court, he elected for a more invasive procedure aimed at having him healthy for the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
Irving has been a familiar presence on the Celtics bench during home games throughout the postseason, and teammates, especially new starting point guard Terry Rozier, have raved about the leadership and guidance he has provided behind the scenes.