Kyrie Irving expected to return from shoulder injury for Boston Celtics on Sunday

NBA


WALTHAM, Mass. — Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving went through the team’s entire off-day practice Saturday and expects to return to game action Sunday against the Orlando Magic after missing one game due to a sore shoulder.

Irving sat out Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after undergoing tests on a shoulder that had been bothering him recently. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but Irving will continue getting treatment even as he returns to game action.

“I’m still going to need some work, but I’m just ready to go back out there and play,” Irving said. “I’m just glad I had a few days to kind of reset and do the things needed in order to put myself in a great position to go out there and play.”

The Irving-less Celtics were held to a season-low 80 points in Thursday’s loss to the Sixers, and coach Brad Stevens has emphasized that the team needs to operate with more effort given how they have struggled to generate points even before Irving missed time.

Irving said the offense is still a work in progress.

“We still have a little ways to go in order to figure things out as a team, in terms of opportunities we can take advantage of and just playing the game within the game,” Irving said. “… There’s just so many little plays that don’t go in the stat sheet and small plays that make a big difference. Just the sacrificial cuts, and the pace of cuts and screening, and just details that go into really, really making a difference of getting your teammate open or your teammate a shot in a very, very small window that us professionals have to kind of make a decision, and it has to happen like ‘that,’ in the snap of a finger.

“Sometimes it’s not being made. And when it’s not, the defense is so good in this league that that window can close, and you try to create an opportunity to nowhere. We’ll get better.”

The Celtics own an offensive rating of 108.1 when Irving is on the floor. That number plummets to a team-worst 97.5 when he’s off the court.

Irving was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star starter pool Thursday, finishing as the top vote-getter among East guards. Through 43 appearances this season, Irving is averaging 24.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds over 32.7 minutes per game.



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