BOSTON — On September 1, 2017, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward sat next to each other in front of the assembled media and answered questions about joining the Boston Celtics. At one point, Irving turned to Hayward and said “It’s about to be crazy, G.”

He wasn’t lying, although it got crazy for the wrong reasons. Now, 19 months and five surgeries later, it will finally be crazy for the right ones.

“It’s the reason why I came to Boston,” Hayward said, “So I think it will be a great atmosphere for sure playing in the Garden in the playoffs. And I’m really excited.”

Kyrie Irving has been pining for the playoffs for months.

“The competition-level is at an all-time high, by any means necessary you have to go out there and get a win,” he said. “It’s just something to play for, it’s basketball, true basketball.”

Both watched their last playoff runs in 2007 end at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Hayward’s Utah Jazz were swept by the Warriors, one of three sweeps for Golden State on their way to the NBA finals. Irving’s Cleveland Cavaliers managed to get a win in Game 4 of the finals behind Irving’s 40-point masterpiece. He walked off the Oracle Arena floor three nights later for the last time as a Cavalier.

“It’s been a long time trying to get back to this point,” Irving said. “It’s been a year in my career where I’ve learned a lot about my body. Over the last year, getting two knee surgeries and a nose surgery. Really setting goals for myself and I just have a genuine love for the game and just want to be back to this point, playing at the highest level. Stats go out the window, everything else in terms of what has happened and transpired throughout the regular season goes out the window. It’s just like everything is about the true essence of basketball.”

The essence of basketball, this time, includes coping with the loss of another important teammate. Marcus Smart’s injury dampens the excitement of Boston’s playoff journey, and it presents a challenge for Irving and Hayward, who will have to do even more to help make up for his absence.

“He’s a huge part of our defense, so many little things that he does for us on both ends of the floor,” Hayward said. “Obviously, defensively he’s one of our best defenders. It’s unfortunate, so we’re going to have to all step up.”

The Celtics signed Hayward to be their star player. Irving wasn’t even in the plans until his sudden trade request. Their pairing was always supposed to be part of a championship equation for the Celtics, and Hayward’s recent resurgence brings them ever so close to the team’s original vision.

Now, nearly two years since they last got a taste of the postseason, Irving and Hayward will finally be at it again.

“I missed it a lot,” Irving said. “I’ve been training and being a professional since I was 16 years old, just really dedicating myself to the game, sacrificing a lot of my time with family and friends to be able to have a shot at the gold trophy. It takes a seven-game series and good teams and good players. To see the players that have done it before me and really idolize how successful they have been under those bright lights, it’s something that you admire and want to be a part of.”