After finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics were hoping to build on their best season yet in this “rebuilding” effort and make progress deep into the playoffs. While this postseason can only be defined as progress, as the Celtics bowed out in the first round in each of the past two seasons, many observers around the NBA were left to wonder what could’ve been. There were a series unfortunate circumstances that happened to players in green, namely, Isaiah Thomas who had to play with the passing of his sister, Chyna, and an injury to both his hip and his mouth after having a tooth knocked out. Avery Bradley and Jaylen Brown also played with hip injuries.
We didn’t know, however, that other players had been bitten by the injury bug. By the Eastern Conference finals, every player and team is playing a little banged up and a bit tired from the stress of a season that approaches 100 games. But new reports from the Boston Globe show that Al Horford and Marcus Smart were both playing in the playoffs with an injured elbow and back respectively.
New: Al Horford (elbow) and Marcus Smart (back) were playing through injury in the playoffs: https://t.co/8hRZyDzjRH— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 1, 2017
This would explain why Smart took himself out of Game 1 against the Wizards and why Al Horford seemed somewhat neutralized in the series against Cleveland where his high for plus-minus was just +3 and his low was a scary -44 in the Game 2 rout.
While this postseason was disappointing and the Cavaliers were definitely the better team, Celtics fans have to be optimistic about their future. How much better will the gang look next postseason? With this core coming back healthy, big men prospects coming in from overseas, the #1 pick/Markelle Fultz coming in, and potentially a top tier free agent like Gordon Hayward, we’ll all be tuned in to see how far they’ll be able to go as this team transitions from rebuilding to reloading.