The last 24 hours for the Celtics have been as painful as stubbing your toe on a chair while simultaneously biting your tongue. Boston lost at home to Indiana on Sunday night, 99-97, and it all went downhill from there. And by downhill, I mean that the TD Garden has essentially turned into an infirmary with just 15 games left until the playoffs.
Here’s the medical report as well as what it could mean for the Celtics for the rest of the season and, more importantly, the playoffs.
Marcus Smart’s Torn Thumb Tendon
Excuse me while I try to avoid the thought of a torn thumb tendon. Gah. This is a very Marcus Smart injury since he’s constantly bouncing off players and the floor and nobody really knows what his limbs are doing half the time. Smart injured his thumb while diving on the court during a play in Sunday’s game and returned after taping it up. The bad news: The injury sounds serious. According to reports, Smart is out indefinitely and will look for a second opinion on the injury. Don’t fact-check me on this, but I feel like asking for a second opinion never means the injury is not as bad as it was thought to be.
Smart is an integral part of the Celtics’ depth and defense. Despite his inconsistency on offense, losing him unspools a string of repercussions. Without him and Kyrie (more on him in a bit) in the backcourt for the foreseeable future (and with Shane Larkin still on a minutes restriction), that means it’s Terry Rozier Time. Rozier has been a surprising flash of production off the Celtics’ bench, averaging career highs in points (10.6), rebounds (4.4), and assists (2.5), as well as countless “How did Terry Rozier do that?” moments.
But as Rozier’s minutes increase during the stretch run and amid injuries, it’s fair to wonder whether his efficient play will hold up.
Kyrie’s Knee Injury
This is the slightly more favorable news for Boston, which, at the same time, encapsulates the team’s troubling situation. Irving’s sore knee first became a problem last week, and on Sunday, it kept Kyrie from playing in the second half. He finished with seven points in 16 minutes. Reports suggest that it’s only tendinitis (only?), so Irving “will not need to miss significant time.” However, head coach Brad Stevens suggested Monday that the team would be cautious with him going forward, and rightfully so. The Celtics have clinched a playoff spot and are now 3.5 games behind the 1-seed Raptors but seven games ahead of the 3-seed Pacers. They’re more or less locked into their spot and hoping that they can avoid facing the Cavs in the second round.
Daniel Theis’s Torn Meniscus
Theis is reportedly out for the season after being diagnosed with a torn meniscus, which he also suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Pacers. If Smart depletes Boston’s depth in the backcourt, then Theis’s absence does the same to the frontcourt. The 6-foot-9 rookie center has been a mainstay in the Celtics’ big-man rotation, averaging nearly 15 minutes a game and posting a 61.6 true shooting percentage. No pressure, Greg Monroe, but this is why the Celtics signed the former Sun in February. Monroe has been a mixed bag so far, though he did have three strong games to close out February and begin March, averaging double-digits and around 20 minutes.
Theis’s injury diagnosis is the only one that’s conclusive. But even if Irving, Smart, Shane Larkin, and Jaylen Brown (who is still out after suffering a concussion following his fall on Thursday night against the Timberwolves) get healthy before the playoffs, this injury bump on the road is coming at the worst possible time. That 22-4 start feels like ages ago.