Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward will next be seen together on the floor on Oct. 16, when the Celtics open the regular season against Philadelphia.
General soreness has ended the preseasons of Irving and Hayward, who will not make the trip to Cleveland for the Celtics preseason finale Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
Irving said he has sore ribs on the right side after a couple of rigorous practices this week while Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Hayward is sore all over, besides his surgically repaired left leg, because of his one-year layoff.
The Celtics played the first two preseason games with their first unit intact but Irving sat out Tuesday’s home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers while Hayward has been slow to return to form after missing all but one game last season.
“You’ll have to excuse me,” Irving told reporters. “My ribs have been hurting from practice. A few of the young guys have been getting after it. It [happened] earlier in the week but progressively just getting hit in that same spot boxing people out, just getting some treatment over the next few days.”
Because Irving and Hayward won’t play Saturday an opportunity for that first unit, which has struggled early in training camp, to gain additional cohesion in game action before the games are real has been squelched. Irving doesn’t seem concerned.
“In order to build a championship team, you have to go through some mini-challenges as we’ll go through some bigger challenges throughout the season,” he said. “We’re just getting started. We understand it’s not always going to look pretty. We have an even better team than we had last year considering just the progress everyone made as players individually. Now we have to figure out how do we mesh that well with that team.”
Stevens chided his team’s performance through the first three games, which included losses to Charlotte and Cleveland. The team practiced Thursday before their season ticket holder event at TD Garden. The players said the practice was productive as the team tries to gain chemistry.
“We’ve all gotten better, now we just have to figure out how to mesh well with all of us,” Irving said. “That’s up to Brad as well, the lineups he wants to see, what we change in practice. I’m glad that we have this lengthy preseason and that we finish our preseason in Cleveland and then we can really focus on ourselves before we go out and play in the regular season. As we know, we’re going to go through some lulls and some changes.”