Health fueled the Boston Celtics all season. The injury bug bit at the worst time.
Eight players played 69 games or more in 2015-2016. Six of those players averaged 10 or more points per game. Avery Bradley was one of those players.
In the Celtics first postseason game against the Atlanta Hawks, Bradley pulled his hamstring. He is likely out for the remainder of the first round, per ESPN.
Bradley is the Celtics third best player. He impacts the game when it matters most.
If Avery Bradley misses the rest of the series, the Celtics will be without one of their best crunch time players: pic.twitter.com/0WX6QqIRxb
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 17, 2016
The NBA Playoffs is all about playing best when it matters most. That is where the Celtics struggled in Game 1.
With 1:29 left down 96-91, Marcus Smart, Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner missed three consecutive three-point shots. Their only points in 44 seconds was on a Marcus Smart tip-in with 1:01 remaining. The Hawks had 96 points for 56 seconds before Kent Bazemore sunk two shots on the stripe. Jeff Teague scored the Hawks final four points all from the foul line. Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas combined for eight points in the final 17 seconds. It wasn’t enough and the Celtics lost by one.
With Bradley out, the Celtics need Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Terry Rozier to step up. All combine for 41 games of playoff experience.
Here are their stats without Bradley:
Smart: 6 games, 1 start, 13.5 points, 3.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds
Turner: 6 games, 5 starts, 6.5 points, 3.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds
Rozier: 2 games, 0 starts, 5 points, 2 assists, 4 rebounds
The Celtics are 3-3 on the season without Bradley. One of those wins was the only win they have this season against the Hawks.
Smart and Turner are great Bradley insurance. Brad Stevens plays his bench often and his first two off the bench is Smart and Turner. Smart is the defensive workhorse. Turner brings a passing and mid-range game.
The Celtics have to play the rest of the series playing situational basketball. Stevens is a situational coach who isn’t afraid to go deep into his bench. When they need a stop, they’ll bring in Smart. When they need a basket, they’ll bring in Turner. If Smart is in foul trouble, they’ll bring in Rozier. A possible R.J. Hunter three-point shot would be huge.
Brad Stevens will play everyone to find the lineup that works. He is known for playing 12 players a night. That experience deep in the bench comes in handy when a starter is down.
Do they have enough to win?
The Celtics looked shocked when Bradley went down. Now they can practice knowing he isn’t around. Don’t sleep on Stevens. With him on the sidelines, the Celtics can win any game.