Kyrie Irving won’t be sidelined long by a facial fracture he suffered Friday night, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. Irving is doubtful for Sunday’s game, the Celtics announced today, but he plans to get a facemask and resume playing as soon as possible. Sources tell Charania that Irving should need the mask for about two weeks.
The injury, which is being called minor, occurred early in Friday’s game when Irving was accidentally elbowed in the face by teammate Aron Baynes. Irving has emerged as an early MVP candidate, posting 20.3 points and 5.2 assists per night while helping the Celtics rise to a league-best 11-2 despite the loss of Gordon Hayward.
There’s more news from around the Atlantic Division:
- Unexpected contributions from several players have helped the Celtics remain successful after the loss of Hayward, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year player Jaylen Brown have taken on more responsibility, while Terry Rozier, Shane Larkin and Daniel Theis have become valuable role players. “We’ve been preaching next man up forever,” Rozier told Chris Forsberg of ESPN. “Lately, our team is dropping like flies. You just gotta be ready. Shane did a great job, stepping up, coming in [Friday]. Like you said, you just never know in this league when your number is going to be called. We did a good job handling that.”
- Nets guard Allen Crabbe didn’t hide his nostalgia for Portland when he returned to the city Friday for the first time since a July trade, relays Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Crabbe spent four seasons with the Trail Blazers before the deal and says he still has fond feelings for the organization. However, he believes he has a greater opportunity to become a full-time player in Brooklyn. “It’s everything an NBA player would want,” Crabbe said. “To be a key piece to a team. I don’t think it was going to happen [in Portland].”
- Changes in philosophy are resulting in fewer shots for Raptors stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, notes Scott Stinson of The National Post. Toronto has been emphasizing ball movement and 3-point shooting, resulting in three fewer shots and three fewer points per game for DeRozan and four fewer shots and nearly 10 fewer points for Lowry.