With playoff seeding at a premium, the Boston Celtics will need to rely on a multitude of players to fill new roles.
Kyrie Irving, one of the NBA’s best point guards this season, exited a loss to the Indiana Pacers Sunday night with knee soreness. Irving has been battling nagging soreness for a while, and the guard said after the game that he could sit for extended time.
"I think [rest] will probably be the best thing, just instead of kind of hoping it gets better over the two or three days that it usually does," Irving said. "It's aching a little bit more than I wanted it to now, so I'm taking the necessary time."
The team was already without young swingman Jaylen Brown, who suffered a concussion last week, and Al Horford, who sat with an illness. The Celtics have also played the entire season, with the exception of five minutes on opening night, without Gordon Hayward.
In addition, Boston announced on Monday that reserve guard Marcus Smart would be out indefinitely with a torn tendon in his right thumb, and backup center Dale Theis could miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus.
The injuries come at a bad time for the Celtics, as they look to overtake the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors in the playoffs. The Celtics have a seven-game cushion for second place, but long-term injuries could affect the team come playoff time.
Even though there could be some temptation to bring Hayward back from injury, the organization would be best served to rest him until next season. Head coach Brad Stevens has gone on record as saying Hayward would not play in 2017-18.
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