January 6, 2019 / 11:09 PM / 7 months ago

Celtics' Irving doesn't think Belinelli hit was 'malicious'

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving told reporters Sunday he doesn’t believe San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli was acting intentionally when he hit Irving in the face and injured his eyes last week.

FILE PHOTO - Dec 31, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving (11) shoots the ball past San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

“Watched it a few times, trying to figure out whether or not it was malicious or not, but I don’t think it was,” Irving said of the encounter. “So I’ll let it go. But I got hit pretty good, and I’m just glad to get a few days’ rest, as well.

Irving missed the last two games due to the hit, which happened Dec. 31 when Belinelli stuck his left arm out to box Irving out while chasing a rebound of Irving’s shot in the fourth quarter of a Spurs win.

“I think he got both eyes pretty good because when the offensive rebound came off the rim, my eyes, they just kind of widened, and then he caught me right as I was about to go attack the basketball,” Irving said. “So I see the ball go off the rim, my eyes widen and he comes and gets me. It’s OK.”

Irving expects to play Monday against the Brooklyn Nets after missing Boston’s wins over Minnesota and Dallas last week. He says his eyes have felt “OK” as he returned to a full practice Sunday.

“Right eye had a scratch in it, left is just really inflamed, so just kind of waiting for it to kind of calm down,” Irving said. “It’s going to take time, but I’ll be ready for.

.”..I make my living with my eyes. My whole entire body, but my eyes are just one of the most important things that I need to play this game. It was swollen, and there was light sensitivity after the initial hit.”

Irving, 26, is averaging 23.1 points, 6.6 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 34 games this season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics could also get forward Marcus Morris back from a neck injury after a one-game absence.

Center Aron Baynes, who hasn’t played since breaking a bone in his hand on Dec. 19, will be reevaluated this week, head coach Brad Stevens said. Baynes has yet to participate in practice during his recovery.

—Field Level Media

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