Celtics Suspend Marcus Smart for Preseason Finale, Ime Udoka Reacts

Getty Images Marcus Smart poses for a photo during Media Day at High Output Studios

Less than one week from the regular season, the relationship between Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka and starting point guard Marcus Smart is already off to a rocky start.

Udoka confirmed The Atheltic’s Shams Charania report that the Celtics have suspended Smart ahead of Friday’s preseason game against the Miami Heat.

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Marcus Smart Breaks One of Ime Udoka’s Rules

The news broke moments before Ime’s slated media appearance.

“It’s internal, we’ve handled it. He’s remorseful and we hold Marcus (Smart) to a high standard,” Udoka said, Thursday after practice. “We made it clear from day one. So, he’ll obviously be out tomorrow night. He’s with us, here on the trip. And, just look forward to moving on from this; growing and obviously, abide by the team rules and principles. Marcus is one of our leaders who we expect a lot from. He understands that he’s remorseful and we’ll move on from there.”

When asked if the broken rule that led to Smart’s suspension was one set in place by the team or Ime, himself, the Celtics’ rookie head coach said:

“It’s one of my rules,” Udoka replied. “Like I said, it’s been handled internally. He won’t play tomorrow and be ready to go for opening night.”

Marcus Smart Responds to Suspension: ‘We’re Handling it’

Smart, who spoke to the media minutes after his head coach, kept his answers about Friday’s suspension short and sweet.

“That’s between me and the team,” Smart replied. “We’re handling it in-house.”

Boston’s backcourt just got significantly thinner for its preseason finale against the Miami Heat.

Celtics’ Payton Pritchard Ruled Out

After taking a hard hit to the nose in the first half of Wednesday’s 103-102 loss to the Magic, backup point guard Payton Pritchard was ruled out for the night before flying back from Orlando to Boston, Thursday afternoon, for further evaluation. All in all, it’s a minor setback for Udoka and his second-year standout.

“We want him to learn and learn the position,” Udoka said about Pritchard after Wednesday’s loss. “And, we always preach to him about making plays not just for yourself, but for others. He’s a guy, obviously, teams are going to guard a specific way because of his shooting ability. We want him to get downhill and find other guys. Early in the game, they had to adjust to Bamba’s length, a little bit. I think we missed Rob there on a few drop-offs or lobs.

“But, he adjusted well.”

No word on his availability for next week’s opener. The Celtics will conclude their preseason schedule against the Heat, Friday night before the start of the 2021-22 regular season kicks off against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, next Wednesday.