Unmasked Kyrie will return Saturday, and he couldn't be happier about it

The masked assassin may only live to play two more games. Kyrie Irving, who's been wearing a clear protective mask after taking a shot to the face from teammate Aron Baynes, says he will be done with the mask on Saturday, after wearing it for four weeks:

Of course, Kyrie could always opt to continue playing with the mask on, whether it's a safety precaution or a newborn superstition that he play's better with it. Considering the way he's been lighting it up on the court, many wondered if he's gotten comfortable operating with it. Don't be fooled, though. Kyrie may be dancing all over opponents, but he is still very excited to ditch the plastic accessory:

Saturday, guys. It's coming off on Saturday. Saturday.

Clearly, Kyrie is excited to ditch the mask. He also mentioned how the "countdown is on" which further shows how eager he is to hoop without covering his face in plastic. However, even though he prefers no mask, is he actually better with it on?

Mask on or mask off? Only the future may have that answer (see what I did there?), but let's compare what the stats indicate so far:

Masked Kyrie has clearly been a more effective scorer for the Celtics. He's been hitting more shots at a higher efficiency, upping his field goal percentage by 13.2% and his three-point percentage by nearly 20%. While his production elsewhere has taken a small hit, his scoring has more than compensated for it. Plus, he's been playing slightly fewer minutes.

Something to consider with these stats, though, are when they are coming from. His shooting and scoring may simply be better with the mask because he's had some time to settle with his new team and city. The first nine games of the season are a small sample size, especially given the roster overhaul that the Celtics experienced this summer, so it's more likely that it just naturally took Kyrie some time to find his groove.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and the mask has 100% to do with it! Either way, unmasked Kyrie is set to return on Sunday to face Avery Bradley and the Detroit Pistons, and I'm sure they'll have Future playing in the background in his honor.

Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32