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NBA

Celtics’ Marcus Smart a doubt for Game 1 vs Heat

Though there is still hope, there is also a lot of doubt as to whether the Celtics’ best defensive weapon will be on the court when Game 1 tips off.

Paul Rudder
Update:
Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart is now doubt for Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Adam GlanzmanAFP

The Boston Celtics are on an impressive run which now sees them set to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it looks like they may have to start without one of their best defensive players.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart a doubt for Game 1 vs Heat

Though they are probably still celebrating their Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics are probably doing so in muted fashion. According to a team announcement on Monday afternoon, defensive pillar Marcus Smart suffered a mid foot sprain during Sunday night’s game. As a result there is now real doubt as to whether or not Smart will be available to start the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Indeed, Smart is now listed as ‘questionable’ for Game 1 in Miami on Tuesday night.

It’s not all bad news for Marcus Smart & the Celtics

While the possibility that he may miss Game 1 is by no means a positive for the Celtics, there is a silver lining to this cloud in that Smart received an MRI on Monday and the results on the image came back clean. That’s to say that even if he should miss Game 1, Smart is likely to return in the near future. For now the Celtics can only wait and see as they prepare to face a Miami side that has shown themselves to be a serious force to be reckoned with in the post season after dismissing Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

“He took a pretty bad fall. Got bent up. He has a mid-foot sprain,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after Monday’s training session. “Pretty tender and sore right now, but we’ll get him around-the-clock treatment and right now he’ll be listed as questionable.”

Marcus Smart is a critical piece of the puzzle

When the Celtics faced off against the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks, there was genuine doubt as to whether Boston could come out on top. Giannis and Co. were looking as hungry as ever and playing that way to boot. Then up stepped the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart. Perhaps there was no better performance to showcase the effect he had on the series, than Game 6 where he put 21 points on the board along with seven rebounds and five assists. Where he defense on the night was concerned, Smart never let the Bucks rest as he pestered them all night. Yet, there was also his contribution in Game 7 when he posted 11-points, 10-assists and seven rebounds.

Between his defensive prowess and his consistently clever passing, Smart’s lack of high scoring games is more than made up for and then some. That of course is without mentioning his ability to read the rhythm of the game and changing it accordingly. The manner in which he creates scoring opportunities for his teammates is enviable and last but not least, there’s his credible three point accuracy. At just short of 40% Smart has given the Celtics some critical points at key moments from beyond the arc. Just ask the Bucks.

To play or not to play: The Marcus Smart question

As mentioned before it’s not a certainty that Smart won’t play when Game 1 tips off on Tuesday night. Indeed, it will almost surely be a game-time decision based on how he feels when the team goes through the warm-up. The one thing that is certain, however, is that should he be unable to take to the court, the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will most definitely have a challenge on their hands, as they will have to stop the ever dangerous Jimmy Butler who would likely have been the man Smart would’ve marked.

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