Celtics move forward without Irving, host Bulls
Now they know.
News broke midday Thursday that Irving will undergo another procedure on his left knee Saturday, the removal of two screws and treating of an infection that will remove him for the rest of the season.
“The hardest thing to do sometimes is accept the uncontrollable things life throws at you,” Irving said in a statement on Instagram. “You try consistently to learn, grow, and prepare every day to equip your mind, body, and spirit with tools to deal with some of those things. …
” … This season was only a snapshot of what’s to come from me. Trust Me. “The journey back to the top of Mt. Everest continues.”
The Celtics host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in what is close to a meaningless game. The Toronto Raptors have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the Eastern Conference after beating the Celtics on Wednesday night in Toronto. The Bulls will be watching the playoffs on television.
Irving will need 4-to-5 months of recovery.
This procedure comes after a first surgery done March 24 to remove a wire from the knee.
“In this case,” Irving said on Instagram, “finding out I have an infection in my knee is definitely a moment that I now accept and move past without holding on to the (sic) all the what ifs, proving the nay-Sayers (sic) completely (expletive) wrong, and accomplishing the goals I’ve set out for the team and myself.”
The Celtics reportedly signed guard Jonathan Gibson on Thursday to fill out the roster for the final four regular-season games, but he is not likely to be eligible for the playoffs.
In the second spot in the conference, the Celtics, who will see the Raptors clinch with a Toronto win or Boston loss, will face the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards or Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. All three could be troublesome without Irving — the Bucks beat the Celtics on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.
Irving, also on Instagram, said, “Let’s go Celtics!! Celtics fans, I look forward to hearing how loud it gets in the TD Garden during the playoffs and experiencing how intense the environment gets. Thank you all!”
The Bulls (27-51) have followed a seven-game losing streak with three straight wins.
“We’re going out there and try to win every game,” rookie Lauri Markkanen said after his 24 points helped the Bulls to a win over Charlotte on Tuesday night. “I hope we can keep this thing going.”
Markkanen’s comments were in response to a suggestion his team is hurting its draft position by winning these games.
They held on for the win over Charlotte with coach Fred Hoiberg sitting Markkanen and other regulars in the fourth quarter — a tanking decision that didn’t work out.
“You want your guys to go out and compete at the highest level and we’re doing that across the board right now,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got so many young guys and they’re still learning their way in this league. They want to compete.”
The Celtics (53-25) lost the opener of the season series with the Bulls 108-85 on Dec. 11 in Chicago but have won the last two. None of the three meetings have been decided by fewer than 16 points.