Despite having two All-Stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have been frustratingly inconsistent this season. But there was at least hope this team could be a sleeping giant if Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier got healthy at the right time.
That case gets much harder to make with Brown now out for the season with a wrist injury.
#NEBHInjuryReport This past weekend Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was diagnosed with a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist. Brown is expected to have the torn ligament surgically repaired later this week, and will be out for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2021
This is devastating for Brown and the Celtics. A first-time All-Star, the 24-year-old was really coming into his own as an essential player.
Boston will need even more from Tatum and Smart on the wing. Smart playing more shooting guard will solidify rookie Payton Pritchard‘s backup point guard minutes, even as games get bigger. Likewise, Aaron Nesmith will probably stick in the rotation when he might not have otherwise.
Boston appears likely to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference, which would mean hosting a play-in game or two. Win either, and the seventh-place team advances to the playoffs. The play-in system is designed to significantly favor the seventh-place team over the eighth-place team (which also must win only one of, if necessary, two, but opens the tournament on the road but ), ninth-place team (which must win two, one at home then one on the road) and 10th-place team (which must win two road games).
The Celtics holding favored position but playing without one of their top players would add even more chaos to the NBA’s first play-in tournament.