The Celtics head into Game 3 of the first round playoff series against the Nets on Friday facing an 0-2 deficit.
One question Boston might not have to confront is whether the team — already without Jaylen Brown due to injury — would also have to overcome a potential absence of Jayson Tatum.
The 23-year-old left Game 2 after getting poked in the eye, but should be available to play on Friday at TD Garden according to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“Yeah, I think he’s going to be fine,” Ainge said during his weekly interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich.”
“All I know is that he was poked in the eye, and it was painful and [his vision] was blurry and he was having trouble seeing out of it,” Ainge explained. “But with rest he’s doing much better, better than I am with the allergies.”
Ainge was also asked about the recent comments made by former Celtic Kyrie Irving.
Irving, who left Boston as a free agent for Brooklyn in 2019, was asked on Tuesday about returning to play in TD Garden now that fans will be there.
“I am just looking forward to competing with my teammates and hopefully, we can just keep it strictly basketball; there’s no belligerence or racism going on — subtle racism,” Irving told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “People yelling [expletive] from the crowd, but even if it is, it’s part of the nature of the game and we’re just going to focus on what we can control.”
“I’m not the only one who could attest to this,” Irving added when asked if he had experienced racism in Boston before. “It is what it is.”
During his interview on Thursday, Ainge was asked if he fears Irving’s comments would have an influence on the perception of Boston and playing for the Celtics in the eyes of other NBA players (and potential free agents).
“I think that everybody’s influencing somebody,” Ainge explained. “So yeah, I think that there’s – my fear is that could possibly happen. But I think that our players, and players that have played here in the past, all have their experiences to share, and that’s just one player.
“Quite honestly I’ve never heard any of it,” Ainge added. “I’m not saying the city of Boston, I’m saying the downtown or the TD Garden. … I think our fans are very respectful.”
Ainge agreed when asked if he thought the Celtics’ history reflected an early commitment in NBA history to diversity.
“I mean first Black player, first Black coach, first Black starting five,” Ainge noted. “I think that our history is pretty good when it comes to that as far as the Boston Celtics are concerned.”