Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been two of the best 25 players in the NBA this season. For at least the next two games, the Celtics will have to try to survive a rarity: playing without both of them on the court.
Amid at least seven Celtics players being sidelined due to the NBA health and safety protocols, Boston’s game against the Magic on Wednesday night is already up in the air. The team will need eight available players to fill the threshold to play, something they were not able to do on Tuesday night against the Bulls. It’s unclear if any Celtic will clear quarantine over the next 24 hours to give the team the necessary bodies to play.
However, assuming Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams are able to clear a 7-day quarantine with no positive COVID-19 tests on Thursday, the Celtics will return to the floor for a matchup against the Orlando Magic this week with the necessary bodies to play without both Tatum and Brown.
How rare has it been for the Celtics to play a meaningful game over the last three seasons without Brown and Tatum on the floor? Beyond resting them both in regular-season finales, there has just been one game since 2017 when at least one of Brown and Tatum were on the court.
That came last January 20th when the Celtics beat the Magic in Orlando behind 37 points from Kemba Walker and a double-double from Gordon Hayward (22 points, 14 rebounds).
This time around, the supporting cast will be just a bit more meager. A reminder of the team’s likely depth chart if they are cleared to play on Wednesday.
Guards: Smart, Teague, Pritchard, Edwards, Waters
Bigs: Theis, Fall
A look at the career NBA minutes played for more than half of Boston’s roster on that depth chart.
Carsen Edwards: 380
Payton Pritchard: 229
Tremont Waters: 152
Tacko Fall: 58
Aaron Nesmith: 39
All in all, these eight Celtics are responsible for scoring just 32 percent of the team’s 1130 points so far over 10 games this year, making this group potentially one of the most inexperienced potential game rosters in NBA history. Meanwhile, Tatum and Brown have scored nearly half of the team’s points (532) on the entire season.
The fact that the Celtics have only played one game without the Tatum and Brown duo over the last three seasons is a tribute to the durability of both players, however. Tatum has missed just 11 games total over his first three seasons while Brown has played 70+ games in three of his first four seasons with only minor injuries and ailments limiting him to just 57 of a possible 72 games last year.
Unsurprisingly, the results on the court without Brown and Tatum have not gone well this year. The team has a -51.7 net rating in the 21 minutes this year with both guys on the bench (mostly coming during garbage time). A closer look at the ugly