The Boston Celtics’ season from hell continued when it was announced Monday that star Jaylen Brown would miss the rest of the season with a wrist injury. This was just the latest setback in a season full of them for a team that reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season and had high expectations coming in.
There have been a number of key injuries and a ridiculous amount of games lost due to COVID-19, with superstar Jayson Tatum missing extended time after a positive test and then admitting he was still being affected by the virus well after his return to the court. The Celtics’ core basically never played together, so they never got the time to build chemistry.
In a weird NBA season marred by COVID, things have certainly been weird for the Celtics, who sit at 35-33 and seem destined for the play-in tournament. With Brown on the shelf, even if Boston gets through the play-in round or somehow avoids it, a deep playoff run seems unlikely.
Even if that’s the case, we can’t count out the Celtics finding their groove next season and becoming a powerhouse NBA Finals contender once again. The Tatum-Brown duo is one of the best in the NBA, and Boston also has an emerging young center in Robert Williams. Young guards Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith have shown signs of life. Perhaps Evan Fournier is back after getting acquired at the trade deadline (he also missed time with COVID).
The Kemba Walker situation will be something to watch. He has steadily gotten stronger as this season has gone after battling injuries. The health issues are a concern with him, but if he sticks around and isn’t traded, perhaps a full offseason and normal training camp will help him better prepare for 2021-22.
It would be a surprise if Brad Stevens and/or Danny Ainge get the boot, even if this season ends in disappointment like it looks like it’s going to. There would be pressure on them next season to succeed, but the circumstances would hopefully be set up better.
Things are certainly looking pretty hopeless for the Celtics right now. It has been a painful season after a painful Eastern Conference Finals exit in the bubble.
But with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (once he’s healthy again) leading the way, Boston should bounce back in a big way in 2021-22.