Big news on the NBA front: Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is out for the rest of the season, including the entirety of the NBA playoffs. The team announced Thursday that Irving will undergo surgery Saturday and is expected to need four to five months to recover.
It’s a huge blow for the Celtics’ chances to make a run through the postseason. Boston is also without guard Marcus Smart and has been without Gordon Hayward since the season opener.
It also sets up an interesting predicament for the bottom half of the playoff hopefuls in the Eastern Conference — namely the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks. With the Celtics a lock for the No. 2 seed in the East, it would seem logical for teams to attempt to jockey for the No. 7 seed to face ailing Boston in the first round.
As of Thursday, the Heat holds the No. 6 seed and has a half-game edge over both the Wizards and Bucks. Miami closes its season with a road game against the Knicks on Friday and then with home games against the Thunder on Monday and the Raptors on Wednesday. Depending on how the final week of games plays out, the Heat could be the No. 6, 7 or 8 seed when the playoffs begin on April 14.
Regardless of what ranking is attached to its name at season’s end or what might look preferable on paper, coach Erik Spoelstra has said that the Heat isn’t focusing on seeding or how other teams are performing down the stretch.
The priority, he said, is on what the Heat can do to help itself.
“We’re not going to shut this thing down,” Spoelstra said after Wednesday’s 115-86 win over the Hawks. “We’re not in that position right now. We’re still playing for something. ... We intend on playing it out. We can’t control what the other teams can do, but we want to continue to play and compete and be ready.”