How important are Brown and Tatum to the Celtics?
Jay King, Celtics beat writer: Nobody is more important to the Celtics. They are the team’s two best scorers. They are two of the team’s three most versatile defenders. Without either one, Boston would be in a whole lot of trouble. If both players need to miss extended time, the Celtics would have no chance of putting together another strong playoff run.
They have been waiting all season to get healthy and now must hold their breath to see if Tatum and Brown can return to the court soon. Early returns from the locker room were hopeful, but the Celtics are still waiting on the two All-Stars to undergo full evaluation.
Who would need to step up if they’re out?
King: The Celtics would need to ask more of Kemba Walker, who has taken a backseat to Tatum and Brown this season. They would give more playmaking responsibilities to Marcus Smart. They would need a lot from Evan Fournier, who has been dealing with the aftereffects of COVID-19, and Aaron Nesmith, the rookie who has emerged lately with promising minutes off the bench. Boston isn’t deep in the best of times. Every injury to its nucleus matters significantly.
Evaluating the remaining stretch for the Celtics
King: At 34-31, the Celtics are in danger of needing to participate in the play-in tournament. Though they finished Sunday night in seventh place, they have a chance to slide up as far as the fourth seed, but would need to string together some wins down the stretch. Games against the Heat (twice) and the Knicks will be crucial as Boston jockeys for playoff positioning. The rest of the Celtics schedule is forgiving, but that may not matter if Brown and/or Tatum can’t play.
(Photo: David Butler II / USA Today)