The Boston Celtics organization collectively breathed a sigh of relief this past Sunday when it was announced that Marcus Smart had been diagnosed with a grade I tear in his left calf. Yes, the defensive stalwart and budding distributor will be on the mend for a bit of time, approximately two-to-three weeks according to the team. Still, Smart’s prognosis has been chalked up as a win. Especially considering some feared the injury could prove to be season-ending.
“I did think leaving on Saturday night that we were at least hopeful that it was what it was,” head coach Brad Stevens said of Smart’s injury this week. “So that was encouraging.”
As for Smart’s teammates, Tuesday night’s matchup with the Golden State Warriors will kickstart a tough five-game West Coast trip for a Celtics that includes the likes of the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and the Utah Jazz. Of these teams, all but the Kings have a winning record. The Warriors have won three of their last four games. Oh, and the Clippers and Jazz own the league’s top-two records.
An undermanned Celtics team certainly looks to have a tall task ahead of them in the coming days. However, Smart is certain his “squad got this.” The all-defensive player took to Instagram this week to back his teammates, voice his gratitude for all the well wishes sent his way, and ensure a speedy, quick return to the hardwood.
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Smart Still on Crutches as of Sunday
As for Smart’s current state of comfort, there isn’t much of one. According to coach Stevens, his hobbled guard remains “really sore” and in need of assistance to get around.
“I know Marcus was really sore yesterday and he still was using crutches, so we’ll see how long it takes,” Stevens said. “He did not come with us, so obviously we’ll get more information throughout the week and next week again.”
Smart’s loss is an obvious blow for Boston, for a plethora of reasons. The 26-year-old has enjoyed a breakout of sorts on the offensive end. Averaging a career-high 13.1 ppg, Smart has been asked to man a larger role as a distributor this season and has responded by leading the team with 6.1 assists per game.
Celtics Stripped of their ‘Best Defensive Player’
The Celtics backcourt was already without the services of rookie Payton Pritchard, who is still working his way back from a sprained knee. Offseason acquisition Jeff Teague, who was supposed to add some pop and consistency of the bench, has been wildly inconsistent, shooting just 32.0% from the field this season. Meanwhile, All-Star Kemba Walker remains on a minutes restriction stemming from his left knee procedure.
While Teague and Walker may be able to pick up Smart’s offensive duties, it’s replacing his abilities on the defensive end that could prove difficult.
“It’s a challenge that our best defensive player is out,” center Daniel Theis told reporters. “But now everybody has to take the challenge and step up as a team. He’s missing but now other guys can show – basically everybody on our team, we’ve gotta prove to each other we are an excellent defensive team.”
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