After losing the NBA championship to the Golden State Warriors in June, it was clear the Boston Celtics needed to do something in order to get over the hump and be able to hoist banner No. 18 sometime soon.
Those two additions vaulted the Celtics to the top of the league’s power rankings in the minds of quite a few.
Many have been picking them to return to the NBA Finals, if not win the title.
But disaster appeared to strike while Gallinari was participating in international play, as he suffered a knee injury.
It looked very serious, and he was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Danilo Gallinari has suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee, the Italian national team announces. No ACL or ligament damage, the team says, which is best case for the Celtics forward following the non-contact injury on Saturday. https://t.co/NG8mS7O6pB
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 28, 2022
It was a much better outcome than what many feared or even expected, but it was still a bad one.
He is expected to miss at least eight weeks, which means he will miss training camp but could be ready to return early in the regular season.
Italian Press reported that Danilo Gallinari's injury timeline is at least 8 weeks and with that timeline, he could potentially play for the Celtics on Oct. 18th opening night against the Philadelphia 76ers. pic.twitter.com/E9A48kf3AR
— Celtics Nation (@CelticsNationCP) August 30, 2022
Still, this is another piece of adversity Boston will have to deal with, and it may not be easy.
Gallinari Is Supposed To Give The Team Some Much-Needed 3-Point Shooting
Last season, the Celtics were only an average 3-point shooting team, finishing 14th in the NBA in 3-point shooting accuracy at 35.6 percent.
Of the main rotation players who ended the season with the team, only Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, and Sam Hauser (who played only 6.1 minutes per game) shot at least 36 percent from downtown for the entire year.
In the Finals, only one bench player who got significant minutes – Derrick White – shot over 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Boston also suffered from a lack of depth when it mattered most, as White was their only reliable offensive option off the bench in the championship series.
Gallinari has a lifetime average of 38.2 percent from 3-point land as well as 15.6 points per game.
He will get virtually all of his minutes at the 4, which will allow the Celtics to reduce the aging Al Horford‘s minutes and keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Others Need To Step Up In His Absence
The concern is that the Celtics have a tough schedule to begin the season, and if Gallinari misses more than the minimum of eight weeks, they could be hard-pressed to start the season with a good record.
In their first 30 games, they will face the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets once, the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, and the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat three times.
After he returns, it may take Gallinari some time to get into top game shape and rhythm, not to mention the fact that he won’t have the benefit of training camp to build chemistry with his teammates and learn coach Ime Udoka‘s system.
Gallinari’s injury may not be a fatal blow, but it could cost the Celtics a few wins, which could ultimately cost them home-court advantage come playoff time, and that’s something that shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to their championship hopes.