In a significant setback for the Boston Celtics ahead of their clash with the Philadelphia 76ers, key players Jaylen Brown (sidelined due to a non-COVID illness) and Kristaps Porziņģis (dealing with a right knee contusion) have been ruled out.
Kristaps Porziņģis sustained a noticeable bruise on his right knee following a collision with Julius Randle from the New York Knicks during Monday’s 114-98 victory. The visible injury prompted his absence from the upcoming game against the 76ers. Meanwhile, Jaylen Brown’s absence stems from an illness that kept him out of Wednesday’s shootaround.
At 27, Brown has been a consistent performer for the Celtics, averaging 22.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and a steal per game while showcasing shooting percentages of 45.9% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the arc. His absence places additional pressure on Jayson Tatum, the team’s leading scorer with an average of 28.4 points per game.
Porziņģis, 28, has seamlessly integrated into the Celtics lineup, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game. His efficient shooting, at 56.5% from the field and 40.8% from three-point range, has been a significant asset for the team. Regarding his injury, Porziņģis mentioned it was not severe but acknowledged the medical staff’s caution to ensure long-term health.
The Celtics, despite their strong 8-2 start facilitated by offseason acquisitions like Porziņģis and Jrue Holiday, now face depth concerns in the absence of core players like Brown and Porziņģis. This will test the team’s resilience, especially against the 9-2 Philadelphia 76ers, marking a showdown between the top Eastern Conference contenders.
While the Celtics ousted the Sixers from the playoffs last season, both teams have undergone significant transformations. The absence of key players like James Harden traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, has reshaped the Sixers’ roster. Additionally, the Sixers will also navigate their injury concerns, with Kelly Oubre and Nic Batum unavailable, while the participation of star center Joel Embiid remains uncertain, adding further intrigue to the matchup.