The surging and no-fluke Boston Celtics will see their galvanizing and scoring force Isaiah Thomas miss the next two games with a knee injury — and it’s an opportunity for the Celtics to show their mettle down the roster. No team can win for long in the NBA without their superstar. Sure, the Spurs can pluck a few games from inferior teams while Kawhi Leonard sits out. But the less-deep-now Warriors have struggled without Kevin Durant and a LeBron-less Cavaliers team isn’t scaring anybody.
It’s an important stretch for Boston. A brief stint during which a team’s best player is sidelined can set the stage for future success, as role players step up and a team shows what it has emotionally and, especially, defensively while playing at less than full strength. The Celtics face Brooklyn and Philadelphia, two cellar dwellers but also teams that can punch (76ers more, perhaps, than the Nets). It’s important for the Celtics to see big man Al Horford play dominant offense in these two games, and for the Celts to dispatch these inferior teams like the conference contenders they are. Thomas missed four games in December and Boston went just 1-3 without him.