The Boston Celtics will lose their superstar point guard Kyrie Irving for the rest of the regular season and playoffs due to his knee surgery on March 24th. His ailing knees have kept him out of action since March 14th.
Originally, Irving was expected to only miss three-to-six weeks. The Celtics were optimistic that he would return for the playoffs, but that hope is now gone.
In the aftermath of left knee surgery, Boston Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the regular season and playoffs, league sources told ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 5, 2018
This is a major blow for the Celtics who have relied on Irving's dominant offensive play all season. They will certainly be much less of a threat to win the east now. This will now be the second time in Irving's career he will miss key playoff action to due knee injuries. In game one of the 2015 NBA finals, Irving suffered a fractured kneecap that sidelined him for the rest of the series.
This time, he won't be able to help his team at all in the playoffs, and the Celtics will be scrambling for answers.
Despite the injury, the Celtics will still get the two-seed in the east. This injury by no means eliminates their chances at representing the east in the finals, but it definitely makes that much less of a possibility.
This injury makes the 76ers' chances at winning the east much greater, as the Celtics were one of the most formidable teams in the Eastern Conference with Irving.
Once the playoffs come around, this injury could have a significant effect on the Sixers' path through the playoffs. They are currently tied with Cleveland for the three-seed. If they were to end up winning the three-seed, they would potentially face the two-seed Celtics in the Conference Semi-Finals in the event that both Philadelphia and Boston advance past their first round opponents.
If the Sixers end up getting the four or five seed, then they wouldn't play the Celtics until the Conference Championship. But since the Celtics would have to get through the Cavaliers in the conference semi's in this case, the potential Conference Championship opponent would probably be the Cavaliers.
Slipping to the four or five seed would result in Philly having to take on the Toronto Raptors in the second round, which would be a very challenging series. Toronto is putting together their best season in the Lowry-DeRozan era, and will probably be the one seed. Even though the Raptors are notorious for choking in the playoffs, this team is much better than those of past years. For this reason, it's not safe to bank on another early exit from Toronto this year.
This makes securing the three seed even more important for the Sixers. Being slotted against the winner of a Kyrie-less Boston versus Wizards, Heat, or Bucks series in the conference semi's would be a much more favorable match-up than facing off against what would probably be the No. 1 seed Raptors.
The next step towards securing this increasingly-important three-seed will be tomorrow night when the Sixers take on the Cavs at Wells Fargo Center. If the Sixers can win this game, they will hold the three-seed by a margin of a whole game with just three games remaining in the regular season. This would have them sitting pretty heading into the final week of the season.