Knee woes: Steph, Kyrie not expected back until playoffs
The NBA playoffs start in three weeks. Whether Boston’s Kyrie Irving and Golden State’s Stephen Curry will be ready when the postseason starts seems doubtful, at best.
The Celtics said that Irving will need at least three and possibly as many as six weeks to recover from a procedure performed to relieve irritation on his left knee Saturday, that news coming almost simultaneously with the word that Curry has a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
The Warriors said Curry will be evaluated again in three weeks.
Based on those timetables, it would appear that both the Celtics and Warriors will not only be without their All-Star point guards for the rest of the regular season — but very easily could still be without them for Game 1s of their respective first-round matchups.
“It could be a lot worse,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters just before Curry’s MRI results were revealed. “You think about some of the other guys in the league that have suffered injuries this year. Gordon Hayward is the first one that comes to mind. This is not a major injury. The timing’s not ideal but we can overcome this.
“Steph can be back this year. ... Just got to hold down the fort and understand this is all part of the journey.”
In the short term, it would seem like being without Irving and Curry for the final games of the regular season won’t have a pronounced effect on either club. Boston is fairly well locked into the No. 2 spot behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and Golden State will almost certainly finish No. 2 in the Western Conference behind Houston.
Curry got hurt when teammate JaVale McGee fell awkwardly into him.
“I think JaVale probably felt bad last night because he was involved even though it was a total fluke, an accident,” Kerr said.
Heading into Saturday’s games, Golden State was four games behind first-place Houston in the West and 10 ahead of third-place Portland. Boston trailed East-leading Toronto by 4 ½ games and six ahead of Cleveland.
If Irving needs six weeks, that would mean the Celtics — a team that has been dealing with injury issues since the first quarter of the first game of the season, when Hayward was lost for the year — would need to get through the entire first round without their best player. Irving’s procedure was to remove a wire in his surgically repaired kneecap, since that wire was irritating a tendon and apparently causing soreness.
“It’s tough when you lose anybody, especially multiple guys,” Boston’s Jayson Tatum told Celtics.com. “We’re just going to have to try to figure it out and figure out how to win games.”
The Warriors have also been dealing with multiple injuries. Curry had ankle issues before the knee injury, and the reigning champions have also been playing of late without Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
Green is expected to return Sunday, and Durant’s return is likely this week. Thompson should play again before the end of the regular season.
And the Warriors have been through this drill before, including last season when Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain — ironically, the same injury that Curry is dealing with now.
Durant came back in plenty of time for the playoffs, and the Warriors went 16-1 in the postseason on the way to their second title in three seasons. But he needed about five weeks to get right, and if Curry needs that long that would also mean the Warriors could be without the two-time MVP in the opening round.
“Some years everything goes great. Some years they don’t,” Kerr said. “This team has seen it all over the last few years.”