Celtics Not Championship Material Without Gordon Hayward, Cris Carter Says

Cris Carter wonders whether the Boston Celtics will remember this season as the one that got away.

The “First Things First” host doubted the Celtics’ chances of reaching the NBA Finals on Friday morning, just hours after the Celtics clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Carter claimed Gordon Hayward’s absence will loom large in the postseason and says the Celtics aren’t capable of reaching the NBA Finals.

“But we just can’t forget they lost the second best player in Gordon Hayward,” Carter said. “Like, are they a championship caliber team without him? No, they’re not.”

Carter added that the Celtics should be happy to progress as far as they did last season.

“I believe their ceiling, though, would have to be the Eastern Conference finals,” Carter said. “Like, you can’t look to them to say, OK, are they an NBA champion? No, not yet. I believe they’re a year or two away from being legitimate contenders for that title. But if they were to make it to the Eastern Conference finals after losing Gordon Hayward on the first day of the NBA season, I would consider that to be a great season.”

Hayward is working hard to recover fully from his gruesome ankle injury, but most signals indicate he won’t return until next season. Some argue the Celtics shouldn’t play him this season even if he’s 100 percent healthy, while others believe he could boost the team’s chances of success by playing a limited role.

Carter’s opinion might be more noteworthy if he chose a side in this debate, instead of simply airing his doubts.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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