By Brandon Easler
The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors are definitely a part of the top 4 teams in the NBA. However, injuries have ravaged these two teams recently as Kyrie Irving is out 3-6 weeks and Steph, Durant, Klay, and Draymond have all been hurt for the Warriors lately with all varying timeframes to return. Both of these teams will be impacted by these injuries in a variety of ways.
Let’s start with the Boston Celtics. Losing Kyrie is obviously major for this team. He is the unquestioned leader and face of the franchise. Kyrie bolsters the Celtics offense with 24.4 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, and 3.8 rebounds per game. This is clearly a huge loss for a team that is in the lower half of the league (16th) in offensive efficiency. The Celtics will now have to rely on their defense even more (1st in defensive efficiency) without their top scorer. Kyrie might return in time for a possible second round matchup against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, but it might be too late by then. This team is very inexperienced in the playoffs outside of Al Horford and will undoubtedly miss Kyrie in that aspect as well. The Celtics will need to hope that Kyrie can come back closer to the 3rd week instead of the 6th if the Celtics want to have a shot at continuing to advance in the playoffs.
The Golden State Warriors have encountered many more injuries as of late, which include injuries to each of their four superstars. Steph has missed the most games this year (22 so far) out of the big four, and he most recently suffered a grade 2 MCL sprain. Curry will be reevaluated in 3 weeks, but he is a major question mark headed into the playoffs. Next comes Durant, who has missed 13 games on the season and is still getting over a rib fracture. Klay and Draymond are probably of the least concern, as they have both been questionable the past couple of games and should return to the court soon. The Warriors will likely go into the playoffs with everyone healthy but Curry, and even though a first-round matchup might not cause them trouble, the red-hot Blazers will most likely await in the second round.
Both the Celtics and Warriors will need their stars back if they want to have a chance of making a deep run in the playoffs and possibly play for the title. These teams will need to avoid any upsets in the first-round in the hopes of getting all of their superstars back healthy and ready to go by the second-round.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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