The Boston Celtics are expected to have to close out their last three games prior to the break without Jaylen Brown
With Avery Bradley already declared out until after the All Star break, the Boston Celtics will likely be without Jaylen Brown for the final three games. Brad Stevens mentioned that he suffered a hip flexor against the Jazz (Via MassLive), and just as he started breaking out, Brown suffers his first set back of the season.
The Celtics are expecting to get Jae Crowder back, which certainly helps matters. That being said, Boston’s depth will continue to be pushed to its limits, and the second unit will need Kelly Olynyk and Gerald Green to stay hot on offense, with Marcus Smart being on the starting unit. Unfortunately, Green is also questionable for the game against the Mavericks.
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Lacking a true offenisve instigator with Smart playing with the starters has made the second unit incredibly inconsistent at times, and that has lead to a lot of difficult games against inferior teams. The timing is not the worst, with three inferior opponents before the All Star break.
The problem, however, is that Brown has been one of the biggest reasons the Celtics have been able to get through the Avery Bradley injury so well. His ability to keep up on the defensive end made Stevens comfortable playing him with the starters. Having that luxury to keep Smart on the second unit is how they are able to be at their best, and it also gives them a top defender to get them going in transition.
Losing Brown once again forces Stevens to shuffle his rotation, but they are playing teams that they know they can beat, despite the injuries. Other than the one blemish against the Kings, the Celtics have fought through the Bradley injury and the momentary loss of Crowder with no problem.
Brown has been great, but getting Crowder back puts them in a better position than they were before the Jazz game, which was one of the most impressive victories of the season.
The problem has always been the consistency of the second unit, and that will once again be put to the test, as Smart is not going to be there to get everyone in rhythm. Last game it was Green and Olynyk, but Stevens has always given different players opportunities, and they are not the only ones who can potentially break out.
The Celtics know they cannot take these next three games lightly, and it would be awful to see this great stretch erased because they could not put things together, and make up for their injuries against teams that still should not be able to beat them.
The Celtics have been playing better defense, to go along with their phenomenal offense. Isaiah Thomas is showing no signs of stopping in the fourth quarter, making it an easy decision to take the cautious route with Brown.
Brown has not been officially declared out for the final three games, but with the approach the Celtics have taken with all their injuries this season, they will not be taking any chances on the player who is shaping up to be the best young player on this team.