It’s debatable that the Boston Celtics have, top-to-bottom, the most talented starting five in the NBA.
With budding young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown flanking veterans Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker, and center Ends Kanter in the middle, Boston is formidable. But as has been the case for the Celtics for the last few years, injuries are threatening to stand in the way of their potential.
Most recently it’s the injury of Walker who, despite having several months to recover during the season’s hiatus, is still dealing with lingering knee issues. The Celtics have brought Walker along slowly in recent scrimmages and exhibition games, with Walker himself admitting he’s not back at 100%.
It simply doesn’t look like Kemba will be at his best going into the playoffs and Paul Pierce agreed with Jackie MacMullan assertion this week that Walker’s limitations could spell doom for Boston.
“Yeah, Jackie, you hit it right on the nail because after all this time off, when you come back to this bubble, you expect the players who dealt with injuries to be healthy right now. And that’s a huge concern for the Celtics. They don’t have a lot of depth right now, so he’s a key component. If they want to get to the conference finals, if they want to go on to the finals, they need all their guys healthy because to me, in my eyes, they feature the best starting five in the NBA with a healthy roster.”
That being said, the young stars of the Celtics have been rising up the ranks recently, and it has become the question of whether people like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can lead the Celtics deep in the playoffs.
Pierce was also asked if this strong starting lineup for the Celtics will be enough to make a deep playoff run in the bubble despite some potential injuries, and he doesn’t think they will make it far at all.
“Like I said, they don’t have a lot of depth anyway. Once you get past their starting five, you’ve got Marcus Smart, you know, a few guys who are still wet behind the ears, and so, if you don’t have a healthy Kemba Walker, then their ceiling is probably 2nd round, maybe 1st round. They’re talented enough to get out of the first round, but it can go either way when you don’t have Kemba Walker out there.”
Watch Jackie, Truth, Perk and Rachel Nichols discuss Boston below and catch The Jump weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN.