UPDATE: Marcus Smart (illness) has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Miami Heat, per coach Brad Stevens.
Marcus Smart is still sick. He will not play tonight. No word on his oblique, per Stevens.— Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 4, 2019
So it appears Smart is dealing with an illness? Though we don’t have any word on his oblique, per reports. Still, Smart is out nonetheless, which will hurt the Celtics’ rotation overall. I went into some more analysis below on how to approach Boston’s lineup. The Heat are on the second of a B2B, but they’ve been playing great basketball. Miami is currently +6 on DK Sportsbook.
So with Smart unlikely to play, who will get into the starting lineup for the Celtics? Brad Stevens loves going with Semi Ojeleye in these types of situations, and then plays him like 15 minutes and someone else gets more run. Grant Williams played 22 minutes Sunday against the Knicks and Brad Wanamaker will also be in the mix to start and see more playing time.
If you asked a lot of Boston Celtics fans and people around the NBA, they’d tell you Marcus Smart was the player this team couldn’t afford to lose. Well, he may be the latest Celtics player to go down, suffering an abdominal injury in Sunday’s win over the New York Knicks.
Smart took a shot to the mid-section from Kevin Knox and was ruled out in the third quarter, unable to return. He’s the latest in a slew of injuries Boston is dealing with, including Gordon Hayward (fractured hand) and Kemba Walker (neck), though the starting point guard has been able to return to the lineup since. Still, these nicks and bruises pile up over the course of a long season, and dealing with this many early on is never good.
Apparently the injury is to Smart’s left oblique, which was the same injury that held the guard out of the playoffs last year against the Milwaukee Bucks. If that is the case, Smart could miss some time, but for now he appears to be day-to-day. If Smart is to miss some time, Walker would obviously need to step up. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would also be asked to do more, which isn’t anything new. Both are still young and both have tons of experience despite not being in the NBA for too long. Brad Wanamaker has also stepped up big as a role player for coach Brad Stevens off the bench.
Ultimately, I think if any team can persevere through injuries like these early in the season, it’s the Celtics. They are a well-coached group and usually teams with good coaching and discipline can win on most nights in today’s NBA, which can be uber non-competitive at times.
The question is this though: Can Boston maintain its place in the Eastern Conference standings? Right now, the Celtics are 4th in the East at 14-5, but have the Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers breathing down their necks. The Bucks and Toronto Raptors are running away from the crowd, plus the Miami Heat have been surprising. My guess is the Celtics will power through but we’ll see.