Celtics Lose Hayward for Remainder of Series
Reports have just been released that the Celtics will be without one of their starters for the coming weeks. First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, Celtics' forward Gordon Hayward has suffered a grade three ankle sprain and will miss at least four weeks.
Although you never want to see a player go down to injury, this makes the remainder of the series a lot more interesting. Boston will now be without one of their secondary scorers and one of their best perimeter shooters.
This loss is going to hurt Boston most significantly in their depth, as Marcus Smart will most likely become the fifth starter moving forward now. The Celtics already had limited options off the bench, and now their second unit has gotten even weaker.
The Sixers now need to capitalize on this weakened Celtics roster. Not only do they now have one less threat on the perimeter that could go for 20+ points, but there is also now no debate that they have the better second unit. This also helps them on the defensive end as they can afford to sag off Smart on the perimeter and dare him to knock down shots from deep, where he shoots just 34%.
Winning the battle when the stars are off the floor is now something the Sixers cannot afford to do. If Brad Stevens goes with Smart as a starter it leaves no perimeter threat defensively in their second unit. That can allow Alec Burks to leave his mark offensively on Boston's second unit.
One key area that the Sixers have the edge in is size. As Boston loses another forward, the size disparity has only gotten larger. If the Sixers are going to swing this series back in their favor they need to control the glass on both ends of the ball and continue to run the offense through Embiid down low.