When the NBA schedule was announced last summer, Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston was the most highly anticipated matchup for many Celtics fans who would finally have a chance to let him know how they feel about his departure.
But Irving, who bolted from Boston and signed a four-year deal with the Nets last summer, will not play when Brooklyn comes to TD Garden on Wednesday night, as he nurses a shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the last five games. Coach Kenny Atkinson said it’s unclear whether Irving will travel with the team to Boston, but at this point it’s probably not worth holding your breath.
These two teams will meet again in Brooklyn on Friday. If Irving is back then, he would return to much friendlier confines, although Celtics fans always have a noticeable presence in the Barclays Center, too.
In October 2018, Irving famously stood in front of a large group of Celtics season-ticket holders and proclaimed that he planned to re-sign with Boston at season’s end. Then the team stumbled through a disappointing 49-win regular season before being booted from the playoffs by the Bucks in five games in the second round.
Irving left and Kemba Walker replaced him, and this season the Celtics have already rolled off a 10-game winning streak en route to an 11-4 start. The Nets, who are patiently waiting for superstar forward Kevin Durant to recover from the Achilles injury he suffered last June, are 8-8 this year, including a 4-1 mark without Irving.