The Boston Celtics were rolling before a two-game skid brought their winning ways to a screeching halt. They lost to the Orlando Magic on January 23 and then faltered in the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat on January 24, bringing their record to 35-15 on the season.
Point guard Marcus Smart was unavailable in both of those games, as he is currently nursing an ankle injury that he suffered on January 21 against the Toronto Raptors. Ahead of Boston’s January 26 matchup against the New York Knicks, head coach Joe Mazzulla provided an injury update on Smart.
Mazzulla noted that there is still some swelling, and they are waiting for it go down before proceeding with Smart’s injury recovery. When asked about how the Celtics can replace what Smart brings to the table in his absence, he stated that “I don’t think you replace it, but you can have other guys [step up].”
He also mentioned that Smart is currently wearing some sort of sock to protect his ankle, as reported by Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
“Marcus Smart is in a “sock” of some sort to protect his ankle, according to Joe Mazzulla. Celtics will be “patient” with Smart’s recovery, but fortunately they have 3 days off after the Lakers game Saturday,” Weiss tweeted.
Smart has been an integral part of Boston’s success this season – his second year as the team’s full-time point guard. The veteran has appeared in 41 of the team’s 49 games and is playing 32.4 minutes per contest. He’s averaging 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game on 42.2% shooting from the field and 33.3% shooting from behind the three-point line.
Joe Mazzulla Discusses Potential Danilo Gallinari Return
Smart isn’t the only Celtics player working his way back from an injury. Danilo Gallinari, who the Celtics signed to a two-year deal this past offseason, tore his ACL while playing for the Italian national team at EuroBasket over the summer. He has yet to appear in a game for the Celtics and was projected to miss the entire season.
However, he’s been working to make his way back by the postseason, and Mazzulla jokingly commented on the possibility when discussing Gallinari’s recovery.
“I saw him jogging on the treadmill and I was like, ‘I haven’t seen you run much faster than that in a game.’ So I thought he was playing tonight,” Mazzula told Weiss.
Brad Stevens on Robert Williams Recovery
Meanwhile, big man Robert Williams is also still recovering from the two knee surgeries he’s undergone in the past year. During a recent exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens noted that the team is being extra cautious with Williams.
“It’s a long game,” Stevens explained. “I mean, that’s the bottom line. He won’t hit north 30 very often right now. At the end of the day, he didn’t play, obviously, any in the preseason training camp, he gets ramped up with coaches’ games that only our head coach gets hurt in; everybody else is fine. But, he’s not ready to play NBA basketball at 30 minutes a game when he first comes back; now you can see, each game, he’s got a little bit more, and more, and more…I think it’s really a focus to continue to play well, get his legs underneath him, and get ready for the end of the season.”