Posted on April 5, 2018, by Travis Pulver

When the Boston Celtics lost Gordon Hayward for the season during Opening Night, expectations were low for the team going forward. Then Kyrie Irving ended up being as good as advertised and the Celtics still looked like a championship caliber team. But now it is looking like it will take a small miracle for the Celtics to even advance past the first round.

It appears that the Celtics are going to be without the services of Irving for the rest of the year, regular season and playoffs. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Celtics superstar is going to need a second procedure on his knee that will keep him sidelined for the next few months.

Via @CelticsJunkies

When he had his last knee procedure on March 24, doctors discovered a bacterial infection had developed where some screws had been inserted to repair the fracture he suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals.

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His knee is still structurally sound. But the doctors have to make sure the infection I cleared up. The team announced the news in a press release (NYPost):

“Following a mid-March procedure to remove a tension wire that had been implanted at the same time as the screws, pathology indicated the presence of a bacterial infection at the site of the hardware. To ensure that no infection remains in the knee, the screws will be removed. The fracture in Irving’s patella has completely healed, and his knee remains structurally sound. He is expected to make a full recovery in 4-5 months.”

There has been talk about a possible Gordon Hayward return for the playoffs. But it would be surprising to see him come back. The team will probably not want to risk re-injury, especially now that Irving will be out.

Marcus Smart has been out with an injured thumb, but the team does hope he’ll be able to come back during the playoffs.

Irving and Smart both played last on March 11, a 99-97 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Since then, the Celtics have gone 7-4 and are currently on a two-game losing streak.

But despite the success the team has had without either player, their odds of playoff success have undergone a dramatic shift. According to the Westgate, they have gone from 9:2 to win the Eastern Conference to 20:1.

Their shot to win the Finals has gone from 20:1 to 80:1.

The Celtics are currently the No. 2 seed in the East with four games remaining and a three-game advantage on the Cavaliers and 76ers (the No. 3 and 4 seeds). Chances are they will remain the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason where they appear to be lining up to play the Washington Wizards.

However, the Miami Heat (No. 6), Wizards (No. 7), and Milwaukee Bucks (No. 8) are separated by just a half game. But each team has at least one challenging game left in the regular season. So there is no way to tell who the Celtics are going to face in the first round just yet.

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