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Celts' Irving to face Nets with protective mask

From ESPN - November 14, 2017

NEW YORK -- As he prepares to wear a protective mask for the third time in his NBA career, Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is very much aware of the "Masked Kyrie" phenomenon that's flourished on social media.

Irving suffered a facial fracture in Boston's win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night and missed Sunday's victory over the Toronto Raptors. Irving will be wearing a mask Tuesday night when he returns to game action against the Brooklyn Nets.

"I hate wearing it, but somehow it's caused a craze on Instagram as well as social media," a smiling Irving said Tuesday at Boston's shootaround at Asphalt Green in Battery Park. "It's amasked man.' But I understand that it's just for my safety, so throw on the mask for a few weeks and go about my business."

Irving suffered the fracture below his right eye when he was inadvertently elbowed by teammate Aron Baynes in the first quarter of Friday's game. Even without Irving, the Celtics rallied from 18 down to top the Hornets and then gritted out a win against the Raptors on Sunday to extend their winning streak to a league-best 12 games.

Irving said that even before he could get fitted for his mask, his young daughter, Azurie, accidentally bumped Dad in the exact spot of his fracture immediately after the injury.

"My daughter hit me in my face the other day and, that right there, I almost teared up," Irving said. "I did my absolute best not to cry in front of her. I was like, 'Oh my goodness, baby.' She hit me right on that spot. Like, literally right after. I came home and I was trying to put her to bed and she hit me right on that spot by mistake."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that if Irving deems himself ready, he has no apprehension putting him back on the court.

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