What Jaylen Brown’s Injury Means For Celtics Moving Forward
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jaylen Brown
Whatever hope remained for the Boston Celtics this season is likely gone after news broke on Jaylen Brown’s injury.
Brown will miss the rest of the season and any playoff games Boston might be in due to a wrist injury, the team said on Monday. He will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist, which could sideline him for 3-to-6 months.
The news is obviously a blow for this season, but the ripple effects go beyond Boston’s title chances. Those odds moved from 66-1 to 80-1 at BetMGM. That’s not what this team expected just a year removed from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Our NBA staff offers insight below into how this injury will impact Boston this season, its future and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Brown’s injury fundamentally reshapes the Celtics. This now makes two of the four teams who finished in the conference finals last year having their second-best player undergo season-ending surgery after Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL.
Brown’s impact wasn’t just on the offensive end where he’d evolved as a shooter and playmaker, but defensively as well. The Celtics simply don’t have the wing depth to replace what he brings to the table.
The Wizards will likely be favored in a play-in 9-10 matchup vs. the Pacers, and both Indiana and Charlotte should now be considered “buy” situations on their “make playoff” futures.
Boston is likely to face a significant overhaul in the roster next season, but Brown should be available for when camp starts.
The Boston Celtics are in the midst of the nightmare year as they sit at 35-33, seventh in the Eastern Conference and things just got worse without Brown.
This is a major loss for the Celtics as this is a team with turnover in talent talent over the past few seasons with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Marcus Morris leaving in free agency over the past two seasons. With the Celtics heavily reliant on Jayson Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker, this team doesn’t have a lot of depth and has struggled replicating the success of previous teams.
Brown is 7th in ESPN’s Real Plus Minus among shooting guards (2.77) and is arguably their second-best defender so his impact will be felt on both ends of the floor. They have just a 5-5 record without Brown this season and for a Celtics team which has found themselves down double digits in 40 games this season and coming off back-to-back losses, this could be a death sentence.
Although past Celtics teams had a level of fight to them, this team hasn’t had it, even losing to a tanking Oklahoma City Thunder team which has won one game in their last 22 chances. I’d be looking to bet against them in the play-in game.
With there being no betting markets on the Celtics to make or miss the playoffs, we look towards other teams for potential value. With Brown out, the hamstring injury for Bradley Beal as well as the Hornets missing Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges, the biggest value on the board lies with the Indiana Pacers who are priced at +260 at BetRivers and DraftKings. They were +285 at FanDuel before it was removed.
Although the Pacers sit in the 10th seed for the Eastern Conference playoff race, they’re essentially locked into their position into the play-in game holding a three-game lead over the Chicago Bulls. With a healthy Domontas Sabonis, Caris LeVert as well as eventual return of Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb, this team has the firepower to compete with any of the lower seeded Eastern Conference teams in the Celtics, Hornets and Wizards. That said, I’m taking the Indiana Pacers +260 to make the playoffs.
This is obviously devastating news for the Celtics in what has been a nightmare season for them. Any hopes of an extended playoff run is realistically off the table regardless of how good Jayson Tatum can be.
One player that may pick up some of the slack is rookie guard Payton Pritchard. Even though he disappeared in the Celtics’ last two games, I’d imagine they will give him so more run as their season winds to a close. He scores 119.6 points per 100 shot attempts (per Cleaning the Glass) so with more minutes and opportunities he could have a few big games down the stretch.
This was the Celtics’ season from hell, and it feels like this is the final nail in the coffin.
Boston started the year with Kemba Walker on the IR, then saw Jayson Tatum miss a long period with COVID and not fully recover for a long time. Now Jaylen Brown is done for the year. All four of the bubble semi-finalists have been wrapped by huge injuries this season, putting a slight damper on what could have been.
Having said that, I think I’m still looking to bet on the Celtics to escape the play-in tournaments and make the playoffs this season. Boston is still pretty likely to be the No. 7 seed, which means it would have to lose twice at home to the Hornets, Wizards, or Pacers. Even without Brown, the Celtics should be favored in those games.
Brad Stevens and the players on this team love to play with their collective backs against the wall, and they have nothing left to lose at this point. If the odds drop out and offer near even money at Boston making the playoffs, I will probably look to pick them. This is not a team that’s going to roll over.
I still think they make the playoffs, though it should be a quick exit from there. These guys just need to get to the offseason. I just don’t think that comes on Sunday.
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