The Boston Celtics played without their full core four group of players in Monday night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls at the TD Garden. Although Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were playing, Boston still struggled to score points without Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker. Smart and Walker were sidelined with non-COVID-related illnesses, and without the full core four, Chicago was able to take advantage of an undermanned Celtics team and put an end to their winning streak.
The Boston Celtics need to regain their health and players as the regular season is nearing its end
An undermanned team has been the ongoing story surrounding the Celtics all season. Having players in and out of the lineup on what seems like a nightly basis has been extremely challenging for the Celtics in regards to building overall team chemistry. Boston has been impacted by COVID-19 more than any other team this season, totaling 162 player days following the league’s health and safety protocols through 13 different players. Leading the way is Tristan Thompson, Romeo Langford, and Evan Fournier.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, Fournier has only played in four games since being traded to Boston at the trade deadline. However, Fournier received a false positive COVID test before initially joining the Celtics, which put a halt to his season debut with his new team. Although he’s missed more games than he’s been available for in Boston, Fournier has finally been cleared from quarantine and can return to the team for their next game against the Brooklyn Nets.
It’s fair to mention that the Boston Celtics traded for Fournier with the hopes of adding both size (6’7”) and scoring depth (18.6 points per game) to their wing position for both now and the future makeup of the franchise. Danny Ainge seems to believe that acquiring Fournier is a great use of their TPE and that he can see Fournier’s future in Boston being a long one.
“I think it’s a good use of our TPE. … We don’t acquire Evan with the idea that he’ll be with us just for this year. We acquire him with the idea he could be here potentially for a long time, like all the players we acquire.” – Danny Ainge, via Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston
What’s hurting the Boston Celtics as of late is their overall team health. Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker made their return to the court in their last game against the Phoenix Suns, however, they are not 100 percent. Jaylen Brown is day-to-day with a noticeable shoulder injury that occurred in his last game against the Bulls on Monday night. Robert Williams is expected to return “sometime soon” from a minor knee injury that’s had him sidelined for the last three games.
The foundation of this Celtics team is built around their star players. It’s also the way Brad Stevens rotates players in and out of the game to better accommodate the bench players. By leaving a starter in with the secondary unit gives the team more direction and oftentimes better playmaking during those rotational stints. It’s absolutely vital for the Celtics to regain health in their team as the regular season nears its end.
As it looks right now, it will be extremely challenging for Boston to get through any playoff series without the number of players actively on and off the injury report.