By MyFM's Jake Archer - The one thing that scares you the most when you have a good, entertaining team coming down the stretch is injuries. Obviously, the Celtics had the injury bug bite them hard on opening night when they lost Gordon Hayward for the year and everybody started to kind of count them out. They've shown that they are resilient, but for how long can they lean on that when injuries are now piling up?
Last week, we saw Jaylen Brown fall on his head/neck/upperback. I'm extremely happy he avoided serious injury and structural damage, but he's still out with a concussion as he tries to complete the early stages of the protocol and we really have no idea when he'll be back. Meanwhile, Kyrie's knee kept on acting up and he had to sit down at halftime on Sunday during a loss to the Pacers. The C's have to let him rest for a while because they need to get that thing right, and he's been ruled out for tonight's game against the Washington Wizards.
Al Horford sat out on Sunday with an illness, didn't practice Monday and apparently won't play against the Wizards either. Obviously, this isn't as big of a deal because he'll likely be back to health soon but still, this doesn't help. So far, that's three of the five starters we've had all year and four if you count Hayward. Counting Hayward, that's three All Stars that are sitting on the bench for Boston. Guess what? It doesn't stop there.
Jayson Tatum, another starter, is apparently experiencing "lower back tightness." He's probable for tonight's game but at this point, maybe they should just rest him for the matchup. Two other players, both bench guys, were injured on Sunday and both of these injuries seem to be dire. Daniel Theis tore his meniscus in the final minute of the loss Sunday and is now out for the year. He's no star but he was certainly an effective piece and a loss moving forward. The biggest issue is Marcus Smart though, who apparently sprained his right thumb diving on the floor for a loose ball and could be lost for the year. Though he expressed little worry about the injury and actually had it taped to return to play, you never know how this thing will go.
If Smart is lost, the outlook on the season is grim. Of course, we kind of knew that the C's are still fighting an uphill battle to dethrone LeBron and the Cavs in the East and even if they did, beating Golden State or Houston right after that in the Finals would be even tougher. The C's right now, even at full health, are not quite there yet as a legit threat to win the title. Without Smart though, it only makes them an easier out.
It's funny to say how much we need Smart because he's kind of a polarizing figure for Celtics fans. Some people think he stinks and hate that he isn't more talented offensivley. Others see what Smart does on defense and with his hustle plays (like the dive that injured him) and know he's a key piece. It's no secret that some of the game's top scorers hate going against Smart and he makes life very difficult for opponents. He likely won't get paid what he believes he deserves in Boston and if he is indeed done for the season, we might have seen the last of him as a Celtic.
The team is still gathering information on Smart's injury, but we need to just look back a couple of weeks to see what his loss did to the Celtics. Without him, when he was out with a hand injury, the C's struggled mightily and the defense took a few steps back. They can't have that again.
Moving forward, the Celtics won't make excuses. They know that this is life in the NBA and that they've got to have guys step up and compete no matter what. It's just an unfortunate turn of events