The Boston Celtics will be without Gordon Hayward for the remainder of their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers due to a right ankle sprain he suffered in Game 1, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Significant, Grade 3 ankle sprain for Gordon Hayward. Celtics say he is expected to miss four weeks. His recovery will surely be based on how swelling and pain reduces over few weeks. https://t.co/SjdaeT66VQ— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 18, 2020
The 76ers' defense was stretched thin due to the loss of Ben Simmons. Philadelphia caught a big break with the Hayward injury for multiple reasons. Boston can easily substitute Marcus Smart into the starting lineup, but it will cost them on offense since Smart is not nearly the scorer Hayward is.
Perhaps the biggest affect the Hayward injury will have on the series is how it will force the Celtics to reach deeper into their bench. Boston's roster lacks depth, plain and simple. The Celtics now will have to rely on one of their other bench players to play a big chunk of minutes, with their top options being either Brad Wanamaker or Semi Ojeleye, and neither of them are much of an offensive threat.
The 76ers showed in Game 1 that they would give Boston's poor outside shooters space at the 3-point line. Boston's center, Daniel Theis, took five threes in Game 1, making only one of them. Expect the 76ers to play the same style of defense against both Wanamaker and Ojeleye, who are 36.3% and 37.8% 3-point shooters respectively. There is an outside chance that Boston gives Romeo Langford some minutes, but he is only an 18.5% shooter from deep and Philadelphia would utilize the same type of defense.
Hayward is also the type of player who does all of the quiet things that allow other players to shine. In Game 1, Hayward finished with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and a team-high four steals. He was a big part of the reason the Celtics had a plus-11 turnover differential in Game 1, which played a big role in the 76ers falling behind 1-0 in the series.