The Celtics were no strangers to turning to the next man up over the course of the 2019-20 NBA regular season.
Boston now will need to do so again just one game into the playoffs.
The C’s, who were frequent victims of the injury bug prior to the league’s pause, finally were at full strength upon the start of the postseason, including no minutes restriction for Kemba Walker. Unfortunately for Boston, it was dealt a tough blow late in its Game 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers when Gordon Hayward sprained his ankle. The veteran forward, who’d been playing some of his best basketball as a Celtic, is expected to be sidelined for four weeks.
It remains to be seen how head coach Brad Stevens will tweak his starting lineup with Hayward out, but the most likely insertion probably is Marcus Smart. Smart, who’s among the best in the NBA at providing a spark off the bench, explained how his approach would change in a starting role.
“Starting doesn’t require me to really be more of an offensive threat,” Smart told reporters Tuesday, per Celtics.com. “So I can spend my energy on the defensive end, whereas coming off the bench I’ll be a little more assertive on the offensive end as well.”
The Celtics and 76ers will meet for Game 2 of their first-round series Wednesday. Tip-off from the Orlando bubble is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.