The Celtics got some bad news this weekend. Forward Jae Crowder will be out at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain.
This is a bad injury for Crowder and the Celtics and it comes at a bad time. With just a month left in the season and five weeks until the playoffs, this is crunch time in the NBA. And anyone who has had a high ankle sprain knows this injury will not be fully healed until after the summer.
Crowder is the most important player on the team. He is a versatile offensive and defensive stalwart who is having his best season as a pro. Jae will be very hard to replace especially as the Celtics enter the season’s stretch drive.
The Celtics are currently the third seed in the East with a 39-27 record. But they are in a precarious position. The Atlanta Hawks are in the sixth spot just two games behind the Celtics with the Miami Heat and red hot Charlotte Hornets breathing down Boston’s neck.
The schedule for the rest of the month is tough for the Celts. Home game with Oklahoma City, two games with the Toronto Raptors, then on the road to play the LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Portland Trailblazers. All tough games that will be even tougher without Crowder.
“Jae’s a huge part of our team. He’s like the glue, and when he went down, it was tough,” teammate Jared Sullinger said of Crowder. “But at the same time, we have someone like Marcus Smart, who can guard bigger players. We’ve seen it, he’s proven it, we can’t make excuses.”
Expectations are now much higher for the Celtics than they were at the start of the season. Many fans think they can win two playoff series before facing the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals. But dropping lower in the standings could mean the Celtics could lose home court advantage in the first round and maybe have to face Cleveland in the first or second round.
The Celtics have been a resilient team all season long. This stretch will be a big test and could make or break their chances for long playoff run.