Chris Broussard on Boston’s playoff chances without Kyrie Irving

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Chris Broussard joins Colin Cowherd to discuss reports that Kyrie Irving will miss the rest of the season and what explains what this means for the Celtics' playoff chances.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Well, I mean, like I said yesterday, and really a couple weeks ago, I'm not surprised. I would have been surprised if Kyrie would have played. I just-- I had talked to some people around the league that, you know, had said they were hearing he's out for the season. And I just felt like-- and I was told that Danny Ainge's thought process was, look, if there's any question about whether or not we should bring him back, even if he could play, we just err on the side of caution in getting ready for next year to come back with Gordon Hayward.

Obviously, I didn't know Kyrie was going to have another surgery because of the infection in his knee. So you know, it looks like he'll be fine next year, hopefully, but this obviously just makes it that much easier for LeBron to get to the finals in the Eastern Conference. And Boston, you still don't really want to play them in the first round because they're gritty, they're tough, they play smart. But they have absolutely no chance now of, you know, going deep in these playoffs.

COLIN COWHERD: Yeah. I mean, it's like the Toronto problem. You can be deep and have a good coach and play defense, but at some point at the end of games you've got to have a score. That's why I don't like Toronto.

I'll tell you, my initial take on this is, if you're a Philadelphia 76er fan, you know next year with Hayward and Horford and Kyrie and Jaylen Brown and Tatum's getting better. You know, everybody's in love but Philadelphia. Next year, if they don't deal with injuries, Boston is going to win the East. This may be a rare opportunity, Chris, is it not, for the Sixers with their momentum now to advance to another round? I laughed at you the other day when you said Sixers in the Eastern Conference final. This morning, I'm like, I think you may be right.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: I hope you're getting your uniform [INAUDIBLE]

COLIN COWHERD: Oh, God.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: That's all I got to say, all right? Yeah, I mean, I think they-- you know, they can get to the Eastern Conference finals. I don't think they could beat Cleveland, but I definitely think they get to the Eastern Conference finals. If you look at teams-- we know it takes superstar talent to get to the finals, for the most part.

Nobody else in the East has it other than Philadelphia. And granted, Philadelphia is really young, probably too young to get to the finals. But in that conference, it's-- Embiid and Simmons are about as good a one-two punch as you have. They're the best ones to punch in the East outside of LeBron and Kevin Love.

COLIN COWHERD: Yeah. What do you think this morning? He missed a bunch of games at Duke. Before LeBron got there, he was hurt. Even with LeBron, one year he missed 30 games. Now LeBron leaves, he's hurt again. I mean, do you think Danny Ainge, there's a little bit of him thinking, what did we get ourselves into?

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Well, remember, Kyrie's got only a couple of years on his deal left. So they wouldn't really be stuck, if you will, if he turned out to be injury-prone. They got rid of Isaiah Thomas, who they didn't want to pay max money to, or big money to. So I still-- even-- I mean, worst case scenario, if Kyrie were damaged goods, let's say, for the next few years, the Celtics would be able to get out of it soon enough, where it wouldn't be horrible. Obviously, they wouldn't be going to the finals anytime soon, but it wouldn't crush their franchise for the foreseeable future.

But to your point, look, obviously we all hope Kyrie is back next year playing fine. But it does tell you something about the toll that it takes on your body when you're the number one option. It's just-- you know, I don't want to say he wouldn't-- he would have been healthy had he stayed in Cleveland and played next to LeBron, because you just don't know, but the fact is it is different, there is more stress and strain on your body when you have to carry the team as the number one option.

And he never had to do that in Cleveland with LeBron. And those were his healthiest years. Now, he did obviously hurt [INAUDIBLE] in the finals with LeBron his first year there. But regular season-wise, his healthiest years were when he played with LeBron as the second option.