A few weeks ago, Kyrie Irving had surgery that promised to keep him out until the start of the playoffs, at the earliest. Now, the Celtics have announced that he’s going to miss the entire postseason.

Via their release:

This Saturday, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving will undergo a procedure to remove two screws implanted in his left patella after the patellar fracture he suffered during the NBA Finals in 2015. Following a mid-March procedure to remove a tension wire that had been implanted at the same time as the screws, pathology indicated the presence of a bacterial infection at the site of the hardware. To ensure that no infection remains in the knee, the screws will be removed. The fracture in Irving’s patella has completely healed, and his knee remains structurally sound. He is expected to make a full recovery in 4-5 months.

Irving addressed the news on Instagram, as well:

That’s obviously horrible news for Irving, and for Boston; it means their two biggest offseason acquisitions in Irving and Gordon Hayward will have both ended up with season-ending knee issues, although with very different circumstances. At this point, just having Irving ready for some of the offseason and the preseason seems like it will be the bigger priority, and it also eases any pressure on Hayward to make a miraculous return for the playoffs, though that was never likely.

But more than that, it opens things up in the East, a conference that wasn’t exactly closed down to begin with. The Raptors have to feel as good as ever about their chances, but they’ve also been playing some shakier basketball of late, going 5-5 over their last ten games, although they’ve also had no real pressure to go for wins since the first Kyrie news, either.

LeBron has played in the last seven NBA Finals, and this news is a major boost to Cleveland’s hopes this year. Most of all because they have a real shot at being the 3-seed, which means a win in the first round would likely mean facing either a depleted Celtics roster or whichever team ends up in seventh. Whether or not that’s enough to boost LeBron to another Finals, though, remains to be seen; they probably have to play some defense at some point, regardless of their opponent.

And the other teams in the East are very much alive as well. The Sixers have been playing some of the best basketball in the league of late, riding a 12-game winning streak to a tie for third with just a few games remaining. A three seed for Philly is a big deal; the ability to get playoff experience for their young players early without facing (theoretically) one of the stronger teams in the conference would be huge. Would anyone be surprised if the Sixers are in the Eastern Conference Finals?

A similar argument could be made for Indiana, though the Pacers are a tough team to figure out, because they play differently than anyone does anymore. Who knows whether that success can carry over to the playoffs? (Though it does mean if Indiana were to face Boston, the Pacers might legitimately have the best player on either team in Victor Oladipo.) And then, of course, there are the Wizards, who feel like they should be better than they have been, and maybe they will be if John Wall stays healthy.

So, the East could be a lot of fun, the culmination of a wild season featuring some new and surprising contenders, something the NBA has been without for too long. And then, of course, whoever wins will get trounced by the Warriors or the Rockets.