Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston to face the Celtics for the first time since leaving the team as a free agent will be one of the most anticipated games of the season. Unfortunately, fans are going to have to wait a bit longer to see it. The Nets announced Friday that Irving will miss the team’s upcoming road trip, which includes games against the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and, of course, next Wednesday’s date with the Celtics.
Irving has already missed four games due to this shoulder injury, and the Nets have acquitted themselves quite well during that time. They are 3-1 since he went down. With Caris LeVert out as well, though, that performance is likely unsustainable. The Nets rely extremely heavily on three ballhandlers in Irving, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie to generate their offense, and two of them are out at the moment. A string of games against likely lottery teams has kept them afloat, but they will need Irving back soon if they plan to seriously contend for a playoff spot.
Boston appears to be a lock for one, but like the Nets, they are likely to be without their own star point guard in that matchup. Kemba Walker suffered an injury against the Denver Nuggets Friday that has not been diagnosed yet, but appears serious enough to sideline him for the time being. The Celtics are currently describing Walker’s injury as “concussion-like symptoms,” so if he is indeed concussed, he would likely be out beyond that Nets game.
The Celtics turned to Walker in free agency to replace Irving, and he has immediately become a fan-favorite. While Irving is notoriously moody, Walker has become a beloved teammate and member of the organization. While not seeing Irving on Wednesday will be bittersweet for Celtics fans, they can at least feel confident that Walker will be on the floor for Irving’s next potential Boston game, which comes on March 3rd.
When he does play in Boston, Irving will face some of the loudest boos ever heard in an NBA arena. After publicly indicating that he planned to re-sign with the team for the long haul prior to the 2018-19 season, Irving and the Celtics endured a season marred by strained chemistry and underperformance. He eventually reneged on his pledge and joined the Nets. Boston is still in great shape, but their fans are not known for being forgiving. Whenever Irving takes the floor in Boston, be it in March or down the line, he should expect to be booed viciously by the fans he spurned.