Irving's knee injury might not be a big deal, but it's a cause for concern

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- The idea that Kyrie Irving was unable to play in the second half of Sunday's game against Indiana because of left knee soreness doesn't seem to be that big a concern for Irving or the Celtics.

For the rest of us?

It's nowhere close to being a panic-mode moment, but heightened level of concern? 

Absolutely. 

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As confident as Irving may be about his knee soreness not being that big a deal, it's hard to look at his situation and not have some level of fear that this is a sequel that no Celtics fan wants to see again.

Flash back to 2009, a year when Boston seemed all but poised to make a return trip to the Finals and bring home Banner 18.

The only potential hiccup being the health of Kevin Garnett whose leadership on and off the court, was a vital part of the team's title run in 2008.

 Sounds familiar, huh?

Garnett injured his right knee on Feb. 19, 2009 and missed 13 straight games afterwards. He returned to play in four straight, but in an extremely limited role in which he averaged just a shade over 16 minutes per game. It was clear that he wasn't quite right in those games, so the Celtics shut him down with the goal being to have him back for the last three regular season games and then the playoffs.

But the knee never healed to where he could play again during the regular season or playoffs which for Boston, ended with them losing in the second round, four games to three, to the Orlando Magic.

Garnett wasn't saying much during that time in part because his absence said it all.

As talented as he was, for all the good that he did for the franchise in elevating them back to top-of-the-food-chain status, that right knee injury made him a non-factor in the team's quest at repeating as NBA champs.

And while Irving's injury certainly has some Celtics fans feeling a bit queasy, Irving has shown no signs of feeling as though his left knee soreness is anything more than something he has to manage and navigate around the rest of the season and into the playoffs. 

"Where we are going this season, I'm pretty comfortable," Irving said. "Competitively, I think that's what I'm more or less concerned about. It's just when I actually do get back on the floor and how good I want to feel. The level I expect myself to play at and being able to sustain it. Right now, I'm going to deal with that."

While the soreness doesn't appear to be a major issue, it does seem to be serious enough to where we just may see Irving held out of games between now and the end of the regular season to give both Irving and the Celtics the best shot at him being in great shape for the playoffs. 

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Because as impressive as the Celtics have been with different guys stepping up at different times to help fill the void left when he's unable to play, the Celtics know they need Irving at or near the top of his game to have the kind of postseason run they envision. 

"Yeah. We got to get Kyrie feeling great, we got to get Al (Horford) feeling better, got to get Jaylen Brown back, we got a lot of work to do here with regards to training staff and health," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. "Again, none of those things seem to be long-term concerns, but we are going to make sure that obviously we're very alert."

The same can said for Celtics fans, hoping that Irving's knee issues don't linger on much longer as Boston inches closer and closer to the playoffs where they will need all their players – Irving especially – to be at or close to their peak health-wise.

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