Boston Celtics NBA Betting: Wagering Impact of Gordon Hayward injury
Kevin Ware. Willis McGahee. And now Gordon Hayward. Three guys who will be burned into my brain for eternity - and for the worst of reasons. We have watched all three of them have massive failures in their legs. And then we watched it again and again and again, because it was so horrible we couldn't look away. I can close my eyes and watch every hideous detail of every injury. And I'll always be able to. When we aren't thinking about Hayward's ankle trying to perform a 180, we are left to think about what this injury means for the Celtics now and through the rest of the season. Hayward isn't playing again this year - at least - so it's a new reality in Boston - just six minutes into what was their last new reality. When trying to figure out what the future could look like, and how to deal with this injury and this team, here are five factors to consider:
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How much of a man is Irving?: Kyrie Irving wanted to leave Cleveland to get out of the biggest shadow in the league and to prove what kind of a man he was himself. Well, he'll now have the best possible chance to prove just that. With Hayward gone, this is unquestionably Irving's team now. He carries the load on his shoulders, but he will also get more opportunities to score and shine. And he has been gifted a great narrative - one star falls, leaving Irving to rally the team and lead them to the promised land. If he pulls it off his legend will be enhanced - and he could even find himself in the MVP race if he really gets rolling. On the other hand, though, Irving is going to face much more pressure than he has ever before, and he won't have anyone really to share the burden with - no one truly sees Horford as 1A to Irving's 1. Irving will have to facilitate as well as ever while scoring more than the team was going to previously need him to.
Increased workloads: Jaylen Brown is a very talented player, and he looked excellent in the first full game of the post-Hayward era. On paper, though, he headed into the season with the task of replacing Jae Crowder. Now he has to step up and replace Hayward. Crowder is a nice enough player, but he is no Hayward. This change means that Brown will likely play more minutes, and he will be asked to score more as well. He is capable of stepping up, but he is still young, and there is a real risk that too much will be asked of him too soon. Brown isn't the only one who suddenly saw the demands on them soar. Rookie Jayson Tatum will have to do more and will have less cover to hide behind if he struggles. These two youngsters are the future of this team, but the future became much more of the present when suddenly Hayward and his 20 or 25 points a game were lost.
It's all about the playoffs: The deeper we have gotten into the three-superstar-per-team league, the less the regular season has really mattered. Teams don't really care about seeding, and they care most about getting to the postseason healthy and ready. Boston may or may not have been the same way. As a regular-season team, though, they probably aren't too much different than they were before the injury - still no worse than the second-best team in the conference and probably the one that will care most about winning regular-season games. It's in the postseason, though, that things will change. The chances the team has of upending the Cavaliers and making the finals - where they would get smoked by Golden State - were not huge at best, but without Hayward and with two young players playing such key roles, those chances are far slimmer.
The East is more open: With Boston less likely to be a playoff force, it only stands to reason that things got a little brighter for other Eastern contenders - Washington, Toronto and Milwaukee. Before this injury their ceilings likely were the second round of the playoffs where they would expect to lose to Cleveland or Boston. That is still the most likely outcome, but the chances of one of them making it through and playing the Cavs is suddenly significantly higher than it was.
The future : It's way too soon to think forward to next season. We are only two games into this season, and we don't yet know the full scope of Hayward's injuries or even what the initial prognosis really is after surgery. At some point, though, we are going to have to look at what the future holds. Will he be able to return next season? Or in the playoffs this season? Will he be the same player, or anything close to it, when he does return? Will his contract be an issue for the team or still the solid value it seemed like when it was signed? Those are questions for another day, but they are not insignificant ones.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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