Celtics' Kyrie Irving out vs. Kings After Thigh Injury Diagnosed as Contusion

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving, who did not play, sits on the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Boston Celtics announced star point guard Kyrie Irving will miss Wednesday night's game against the Sacramento Kings with a left thigh contusion. 

The 26-year-old has been Boston's best offensive player this season, averaging 23.4 points and 7.0 assists per game while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three. His shooting, otherworldly handles and excellent finishing at the basket make him one of the most dynamic perimeter players in the NBA.

Irving brings his own concerns, too, though. He can be hunted defensively and his forays into leadership this season have led to him publicly calling out his younger teammates and making some interesting admissions, as the Celtics have seemed to struggle with chemistry throughout the year.

The combination of star veterans and younger talents still trying to establish themselves in the NBA has made for an interesting blend in Boston, though through the growing pains, the Celtics would still be the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference if the postseason began today.

And the Celtics are also uniquely equipped to deal with the loss of a talent like Irving. For one, they have an excellent backup in Terry Rozier, who thrived in the starting role in last year's playoffs (16.5 PPG, 5.7 APG). For another, they can rely on a slew of dangerous players to generate offense, like Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. 

And the Celtics proved themselves without Irving in last year's postseason, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. While the path back to that point will be more difficult this year—the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are all dramatically improved—they are no slouches without Irving.

In his absence, Rozier and Marcus Smart should play expanded minutes.