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BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- All-Star Kyrie Irving went missing in the second-half of last night's 99-97 Celtics loss to the Pacers after scoring seven points in 16 first-half minutes.
The reason - general knee soreness; same thing that forced the guard to miss a game in Chicago last week.
Irving said he'll have to manage his aching injury down the stretch.
"I've been down that road before of having a fractured kneecap already," he said. "I think that taking games like this and being smart about it probably will put me in a better position not to be out for a long period of time, because that's the last thing I want right now."
It's the last thing the Celts want, too. They have 15 games remaining in the regular season, then they're poised for a deep playoff run.
Despite two meetings left with the surging Raptors, Toronto will be tough to catch. Boston's 3-and-a-half games out of first in the East, but a virtual lock to finish no worse than second since Indiana's another seven games back.
The smartest thing the C's can do right now is pace Irving, give him and whoever else needs it whatever time they require, and rest up for the postseason.
Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Daniel Theis, Shane Larkin and, yes, Gordon Hayward, are also dealing with injuries or illness.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Adam Kaufman reports