Avery Bradley is out, probably for as long as the Celtics are going to be in the playoffs.  Over the next two days, you're going to hear all about who should step up and fill the void.

Marcus Smart will likely join the starting lineup.  Evan Turner is expected to get more minutes as well.  Neither of them is a particularly effective outside shooter though, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Jonas Jerebko get some extra run to space the floor.  Bradley's injury could also provide an opportunity for seldom-used rookies Terry Rozier or RJ Hunter to make an impact (or maybe even James Young?).

However, Jae Crowder is the player Boston sorely needs to elevate his game to a higher level.

After Isaiah Thomas, Bradley finished the regular season second on the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game.  Crowder was third at 14.2.  When your No. 2 option on offense goes down, it's only natural for the No. 3 guy to carry more of the load.

But, that's not the main reason why Crowder has to kick it up a notch for the Celtics to have a chance against the Hawks.  Take a look at Jae's numbers over his first 66 games of the season:

14.4 PTS, 45% FG, 34.8% 3PT, 5.1 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.8 STL

And here are his stats for the last eight contents (including Game 1) since he returned from his ankle injury:

12.9 PTS, 36.6% FG, 24.4% 3PT, 5.6 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.1 STL

His scoring is down 1.5 points per game, but even more importantly his shooting percentages are off by roughly 10 percent.

It's time for the real Jae Crowder to please stand up.  Or even better, how about a new and improved playoff-version 2.0 Crowder.  We've seen him hit big shots.  We've seen him take the ball to the hole with reckless abandon.  We've seen him hound opponents on defense and pick their pockets time and time again.

We saw Crowder do all these things so often over the course of the season that we anointed him the second-best player on the ballclub.  Now's his chance to prove it.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan

Mark Van Deusen 4/18/2016 07:30:00 AM Edit
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