Smart was going for a rebound against the Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell when he landed awkwardly and began clutching his left calf. Smart had to be helped off the floor and was putting no pressure on the leg as he left. Officially, the team is calling it a calf strain.
But an MRI is scheduled for Sunday and will reveal the full extent of the injury.
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A look at the Marcus Smart injury. Grabs at calf/achilles area. pic.twitter.com/9goexv30lj
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) January 31, 2021
This has been a critical season for Smart, with Gordon Hayward leaving in free agency, Kemba Walker having missed the start of the season because of a knee injury and Jayson Tatum having missed time with COVID-19. Smart is averaging a career-high 13.1 points and 6.1 assists but is shooting just 39.4% from the field and 31.1% from the 3-point line.
He was 2-for-7 shooting with seven assists against the Lakers when he was injured.
Did Marcus Smart Suffer an Achilles’ Tendon Tear?
The fear, given the location of Smart’s injury, is that he suffered an Achilles’ tendon tear, an injury that would put him out for the rest of this season and keep him out into next season. For a Celtics team that is already dealing with a lack of veteran depth, an injury to Smart would be devastating.
Because Smart’s leg seemed to “pop” speculation was rampant online about an Achilles’ injury
I hope I’m wrong but that looked suspiciously like an Achilles for Marcus Smart
— Carmichael Dave 🇺🇸 (@CarmichaelDave) January 31, 2021
— 🔴 𝔾𝕆𝔸𝕋 🔴 𝕋𝔸𝕃𝕂 ➏ (@MJ23GoatTalk) January 31, 2021
But there was speculation on the other side, too, that Smart’s injury appeared too high up on his leg to be an Achilles. It is a big difference—Smart could be out an entire year or could be out a couple of weeks.
#BleedGreen Marcus Smart appears to have suffered a calf strain. Expect him to miss 5-20 days depending on the severity. Achilles possible as well but less likely given the way he did it. #celtics #MarcusSmart @TheFantasyDRS https://t.co/mpoueNMXrN
— Jesse Morse, MD (@DrJesseMorse) January 31, 2021
Marcus Smart's injury – You can see the calf (specifically the medial gastrocnemius, most common site of calf strain) "pop" when the injury occurs. Notice the pop is NOT down lower in the Achilles. pic.twitter.com/t0cEoSfz1C
— Brian Sutterer MD (@b_sutterer) January 31, 2021
Take the Twitter diagnoses with a grain of salt, of course. Only an MRI will reveal the full extent of Smart’s injury.
Jaylen Brown: ‘Marcus is Essential to Our Team’
While Smart’s offensive numbers are decidedly inefficient, his defense and toughness are key elements to the Celtics’ success. Smart was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last year, the second consecutive season he earned that honor.
The Celtics have struggled defensively, especially during the team’s stretch of five losses in seven games. Boston ranks 11th in defensive efficiency this season, which is respectable but far off the team’s usual standard. In the past three seasons, the Celtics have finished in the Top 6 each year.
Losing Smart would be devastating.
“Yeah, everybody was concerned with his health,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown told reporters. “And he just, trying to do our best to redirect that energy, because when one guy goes down, we’ve got to step up. But Marcus is essential to our team, man, he’s been great. Whether the numbers show it or not, Marcus has been a leader on this team, he’s been somebody that has been looking to get guys the ball in the right spots, including me.
So to have him go down in the middle of the game like that, definitely had everybody concerned. Hopefully, the MRI is negative and we get him and we can get some wins on the road.”