BOSTON — Celtics star Kyrie Irving said Sunday he doesn’t believe Spurs guard Marco Belinelli intentionally tried to hit him in the face when he struck both of Irving’s eyes while jostling for a rebound last week.
“I make my living with my eyes,” Irving said after practicing fully with the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. “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.
“Watched it a few times, trying to figure out whether or not it was malicious or not, but I don’t think it was. 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.”
The play happened in the fourth quarter of Boston’s loss to San Antonio on New Year’s Eve and caused Irving to miss the Celtics’ home wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
“They’re OK,” Irving said of his eyes after competing in multiple shooting competitions with teammates during practice. “Right eye had a scratch in it, left is just really inflamed, so just kind of waiting for it to kind of calm down. It’s going to take time, but I’ll be ready for [Monday].”
Irving said that the cause of the injury was a combination of fighting for the loose ball and bad timing.
“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. So I see the ball go off the rim, my eyes widen and he comes and gets me. It’s OK.”
In other Celtics injury news, Marcus Morris, who injured his neck against Minnesota and didn’t play against Dallas, also practiced, and said he “probably more than likely” will play against the Nets, as well.
“It’s a lot better,” Morris said. “I’ve been working on it the last three days. Motion’s better. Feels good.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens also said that injured center Aron Baynes, who has been out since breaking a bone in his hand against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 19, will be re-evaluated early this week, after which a more firm return date will be established. To this point, Baynes has not participated in any team drills and is limited to individual conditioning.