Kyrie Irving let it be known he wasn’t crazy about the New Year’s Eve collision with San Antonio guard Marco Belinelli that left him with two scratched eyes.
It caused Irving to miss two games (he’s expected to return for Monday’s clash with the Brooklyn Nets), but he’s not exactly pleased with Belinelli or the contact after watching it several times. Irving remained in the game but was later diagnosed with a scratched cornea.
Irving practiced with the team on Sunday, then reflected on the injury and the incident.
“I watched it a few times, and I’m trying to figure out whether it was malicious or not,” he said. “But I don’t think it was, so I’ll let it go. I got hit pretty good, and it was good to get a few days of rest as well.”
When asked about the bizarreness of Belinelli scratching both eyes, Irving said: “I think he got both eyes pretty good, because when the offensive rebound came off the rim, my eyes, they kind of widened and then he caught me as I was about to go attack the basketball. So I see the ball go off the rim, I miss, my eyes are wide open and he comes and gets me. It’s OK.”
Speaking of offensive rebounds, Irving has 43 this season in 34 games. He collected 33 in 60 games last season, and his career high was 55 in 2014-15. He should shatter that personal best. Irving’s aggression on the boards has given the Celtics extra possessions.
“Just trying to create opportunities,” he said. “Conditioning, just being able to be physical down there. Take your chances when you get in there, sometimes you’re going to get them, sometimes you’re not. But the one time you don’t go in, you could have had it. And the one time you go in, you miss it. It’s OK.”
Marcus Morris returned to practice after missing Friday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks with a stiff neck sustained in a fall Wednesday.
Morris said he should be able to go Monday against the Nets, giving the club one of its most reliable scorers.
“It’s a lot better,” he said. “I made shots [in practice], so that’s the only thing that matters.”
Marcus’s brother, Markieff Morris, a forward for the Washington Wizards, is expected to miss six weeks with a cervical injury after he was struck on the chin during a Dec. 16 game with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The coincidence of the Morris brothers both missing games with neck issues wasn’t lost on Marcus, but he pointed out that Markieff’s injury was more severe.
“His symptoms were a lot different than mine,” Marcus said. “He had some numbness. I had kind of a small shoulder bruise because I [felt] kind of like if I slept the wrong way [on it].
“We wanted to see for couple of days how it felt. It’s still a little sore and a little stiff, but it’s coming along.”
Robert Williams is questionable for Monday after missing the past five games with a strained groin, sustained while he was dunking the ball in shootaround Dec. 27.
Williams has become a more important component for the Celtics with the injury to center Aron Baynes, who expected to miss another few weeks with a left hand fracture.
Williams said he’s improving after working with the team’s trainers.
“Trying to get myself ready mentally, sitting out as much as I’ve been sitting out,” he said. “Putting all my trust into the trainers. Taking it day-by-day.”
Williams could become an asset defensively for the Celtics when he becomes healthy because he’s their only true rim protector. But he’s experienced the normal rookie year inconsistencies and the high learning curve.
Williams was asked what is the biggest transition issue from playing in college to playing in the NBA.
“This may sound funny, but I literally don’t know the days of the week,” he said. “I promise I couldn’t tell you what today is.
“With the traveling you mix up the hotel room numbers from the previous [city]. It’s a lot man. It’s worth it, though.”