Now that the trade deadline has come and gone and Danny Ainge has kept things as they are, the biggest question the Celtics face now is, "Can the Celtics overcome the injury bug?" Fortunately, the past few weeks Boston has found ways to get the win despite the various absences of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Rob Williams III. Winning nine out of their last 10 games, the Celtics have given their fans a reason to be hopeful of a title run. But again, can a team plagued with injuries hope to stop Giannis, LeBron or Kahwi? Possibly not, but then again, counting the Celtics out has never been the wisest thing, and here are some very good reasons why.
The "Next Man Up" Mentality
If you've been a Celtic's fan for any amount of time, you have have heard this phrase a time or two. And even better, have seen it executed in each game. Most recently, Romeo Langford has stepped up and showed tremendous promise on both the offensive end. Boston's 14th overall draft pick dropped 16 points against Atlanta, and didn't disappoint on the defensive end either. Romeo grabbed five rebounds, had three blocks, one steal and took a very Marcus Smart like charge. Brad Wannamaker and Javonte Green have also been stepping up when called upon. If injuries linger, the bench will certainly muster all they've got and get Boston to the finals. It won't be without it's difficulties, as the bench has struggled offensively, however, it's not impossible. There's even rumors of Isaiah Thomas possibly returning, which would certainly add some scoring depth to the bench. Whether those rumors are true remain to be seen. While many fans would love to see the King of the Fourth return, it isn't an absolute necessity. He could potentially disrupt the chemistry the team has developed, which would be more of a detriment more than a positive.
Time Lord's Return
Rumors are that Rob Williams is to return shortly after the All Star break. His return will deepen the big man position and we'll all see a lot more help defensively. Hearing the words of Brad Stevens, "I think one of the most important guys to our ceiling is Robert," should bring ample confidence that his return will fill some of the gaps we've been seeing. Danny confirms this as he says, "He's a better shot-blocker, better catching the ball around the rim, playing in the dunker position." I for one am looking forward to a few more alley-oops before the season is through! His return will also minimize any holes Enes Kanter leaves defensively, and will allow him to do what he does best: Grabbing those offensive rebounds and putting up second chance shots.
As of right now, none of the injuries the Celtics are facing are season ending, or anything to be truly concerned about. Kemba's knee may be the only one that could linger, but with his determination and work ethic, one shouldn't expect it to hinder him for very long. The Jays are young, and have seemed to heal quickly from their intermittent injuries, and Hayward has been healthy since Christmas. As the front office stays diligent in managing all of the players minutes and monitoring their health, we should see a fully healthy team heading into the playoffs.
Naturally, it's concerning when key players go down, and the bench is relatively young. But Celtics fans shouldn't forget that two years ago a young team was only minutes from heading to the NBA Finals. Some of those young members have developed into All-Star caliber players, and are even more prepared to go the distance. Nothing is impossible, so stay strong, stay hopeful and as always, #bleedgreen.
Featured photo by Barry Chin