When Avery Bradley left Game 1 in the second half as a result of a hamstring issue, the post-game mood for the Boston Celtics was somber when discussing his status. Now, it has become public knowledge that the talented guard will likely miss the remainder of the first round series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Brad Stevens says Avery Bradley is "very unlikely" for the remainder of series against the Hawks with significant right hamstring injury.— Sekou Smith (@SekouSmithNBA) April 17, 2016
While this absence undoubtedly helps the Hawks from a basketball standpoint, it is never ideal to see a player of this magnitude on the shelf in the NBA Playoffs. Bradley's offensive skills aren't always tantalizing to the opposition, but the combo guard serves as one of the best on-ball defenders in the league, and his absence creates a significant hole in Boston's rotation.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was already facing a shortage when it comes to perimeter shooting in this series, and while Bradley isn't a lights-out shooter, he is a competent one. Boston gave former Georgia State star R.J. Hunter a stretch of playing time in Game 1, but with Bradley in the lineup, Stevens is left in a conundrum that could include more time for Hunter or a player like rookie point guard Terry Rozier.
The other scenario for Boston is just as risky, as the Celtics were roundly exposed when using bigger lineups in Game 1. Conventional wisdom suggests that the Celtics are at their best with Jae Crowder playing power forward, especially against Atlanta's talented and mobile frontcourt of Al Horford and Paul Millsap, but Boston now has more playoff-ready players in the frontcourt (Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Jonas Jerebko, etc.) than they do on the wing.
To be fair, Brad Stevens is a (very) good coach that will likely come up with a game plan to off-set the absence of Avery Bradley, but Boston is certainly in a hole without one of their top assets and the Celtics are already in a 1-0 series deficit to boot. Stay tuned.