Apparently the Boston Celtics exceeded their limit for the number of consecutive games that they are allowed to have all five regular starters healthy. How long did it last this time, three games?
Isaiah Thomas will not travel this weekend to NY and Philly. He's out with a right knee bone bruise. #NEBHInjuryReport— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2017
Now before we panic about being the latest Eastern Conference contender to lose an All-Star, we should note that the injury doesn’t appear to be serious—at least for now. The team is calling it a right knee bone bruise, which presumably Thomas should be able to shake off in a few days.
There's not much concern about Isaiah's injury on the Celtics' end. Sounds like they expect him to be fine.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) March 16, 2017
It’s reasonable to expect that the Celtics simply want to give their superstar a rest against a pair of tanking teams. Boston should be able to handle Brooklyn and Philly without him. The key will be whether or not Thomas returns in time for Monday’s pivotal game against the Washington Wizards. The Cs are currently clinging to a one-game lead in the loss column over Washington for the No. 2 seed in the East, so they’ll need to have the IT Department on call against John Wall and the Wiz.
Boston is also only two games behind Cleveland for the top seed. The LeBrons face a tough Utah Jazz squad tonight before heading out on a brief West Coast trip. Boston’s soft schedule to wrap up the week gives them a prime opportunity to close the gap, even with Thomas sidelined.
With IT on the shelf, Boston will presumably turn to Marcus Smart to start at point guard. The 23-year-old has played well in 22 starts this season, averaging 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals.
Some extra rest should be good for Thomas as the Celtics gear up for the final stretch and what they hope will be an extended postseason run, as long as his teammates can pick up the slack in his absence. With Avery Bradley rounding back into form, Al Horford coming off a big night against Minnesota and rookie Jaylen Brown showing flashes of brilliance, there is enough talent on this roster to handle teams like the Nets and Sixers.
Let’s just hope we don’t need to find out how the team will fare without Thomas for any longer than that.