The Celtics are entering a huge playoff run. Not only is Boston talented enough to advance deep into the postseason, this will be the Celtics’ last good chance to impress Kyrie Irving before he hits free agency.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, they’ll begin this journey without Marcus Smart.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Smart was having a career year. He has been the NBA’s best defensive guard and developed into a capable 3-pointer. His energy is irreplaceable. This is a big loss.
The Celtics should still be favored to beat the Pacers in the first round. If top seeds prevail, Boston also matches up well with the Bucks (though Milwaukee is a better team).
This puts pressure on Jaylen Brown, who has had an up-and-down season. If he finds a comfort zone, the Celtics should be alright.
But Boston definitely loses margin for error. Terry Rozier will probably get steady playing time, even if he’s struggling. Brad Wanamaker could slide into the playoff rotation. The Celtics could use more lineups with bigger Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum on the wing.
There are options – none of them anywhere near as good as having a healthy Smart.