The Celtics' string of good health in Orlando lasted approximately 43 minutes into the postseason. The team announced on Tuesday afternoon that Gordon Hayward suffered a Grade III sprain of his right ankle during the fourth quarter of last night’s game against Philadelphia when he landed on the foot of Daniel Theis while going up for a rebound. He is expected to miss approximately four weeks. A Grade III sprain is a full tear of an ankle ligament.
Hayward was already expected to miss some portion of the postseason for the birth of his fourth child in September, but this injury will wipe out his availability through the first round and the Eastern Conference Semifinals at minimum, if the Celtics are able to make it that far.
The bigger concern now comes for the Celtics in the present, as the series against the Sixers suddenly got a lot more interesting with no Hayward in the fold. How will the C's plan on taking on Philly without one of their top wings? Here's a first look at the trickle-down impact in the starting lineup and the Celtics' rotation as the C's try to spread around his 35 minutes per game.
Marcus Smart: Smart is already playing 30+ minutes, so he won't be taking much of Hayward's minutes load beyond cementing his spot in a closing five lineup with the rest of the starters. The one question Brad Stevens will need to ask though is whether Smart is the right man to go into the starting five or if he will be better served as a sixth man/ball handler off the bench. Smart will clearly be a big defensive boost to the starters, but would leave Boston's bench incredibly thin from a production department without him. The guess here is he gets the nod to start but Stevens will consider going with a bigger player (Grant Williams? Romeo Langford?) that could defend the Sixers wings and hide on offense a bit with so much talent around them in the starting group.
Brad Wanamaker: As one of the few reliable ballhandlers off Boston's bench, look