Marcus Smart will have to step up for the Boston Celtics with Hayward out

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 17: Gordon Hayward
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 17: Gordon Hayward /

With Gordon Hayward out for the foreseeable future, it’s time for Marcus Smart to step up in the Boston Celtics starting lineup.

The Boston Celtics season got off to a terrifying start on Tuesday night as Gordon Hayward went down hard with a fractured ankle just 5 minutes into the game. The initial reaction from the Cleveland bench and all of the players on the court let you know just how serious the injury was.

Hayward was put on a stretcher and was wheeled into the Cavaliers locker room, where both Cleveland and Boston medical staffs took a look at the injury. It was decided that it would be best for Hayward to fly back to Boston and receive surgery there. Now, Hayward is at New England Baptist Hospital. He is looking at all of the possible scenarios after CT and MRI scan’s this morning.  Surgery may come on Wednesday as well.

Players from around the NBA took to Twitter to give their support to Gordon Hayward, a star in the league.

Now, Boston will have to quickly find a way to replace Hayward on the court for the next 3-6 months. A Wednesday game against the Milwaukee Bucks means it needs to be addressed right now.

Replacing GH in the starting lineup

Well, Marcus Smart is the clear choice here to be added into the starting 5. He was the one that came into the game when Hayward went down, and I think he’ll be on the court for tip-off on Wednesday night.

More from Chowder and Champions

Now, a lot of people will look at Marcus Smart’s line from last night and think of it as mediocre. You’re right, but no one on the Celtics team played well immediately after the injury. It took until the 3rd quarter for them to really figure things out. Smart started 0-9 shooting on the night, but he actually finished 5-16 with 12 points in 35 minutes. I wouldn’t expect him to go 0-9 at any point again on Wednesday night, and he could be a 20-point player. Smart has also aimed to improve his defense, and with Hayward out that end of the court is a real concern. Smart can step up here and show why he’s underrated across the league.

The other starters should remain the same, as Jaylen Brown went for 25 points and 6 rebounds and rookie Jayson Tatum recorded a double-double. With 14 points and 10 rebounds, Tatum was the first rookie to record a double-double in his Celtics debut since Larry Bird.

Al Horford finished with just 9 points, but he had 7 rebounds and 5 assists on the night. He also got the team fired up in the third quarter with his physical play. Kyrie Irving was the clear star of the night though, with 22 points and 10 assists.

Next: Does Hayward injury prove the Isaiah Thomas curse?

Boston isn’t the same team without Gordon Hayward, as they’ll be missing his 3-point shooting and defense, but they may still be the best team in the Eastern Conference. They nearly beat a fully-loaded Cavaliers team after being down by 18 points. I still have a ton of hope that the Celtics win the division and that Hayward comes back for the playoffs. Then, Boston can definitely still make a run at an NBA title.