BOSTON – When the preseason starts, there are a slew of goals that players and coaches set for themselves.
But there’s only one that they absolutely, positively want to see come to fruition: stay healthy.
The Celtics came oh-so-close to making that happen, only to see one of their core guys this season – Marcus Smart – suffer a left ankle sprain in the second quarter of Boston’s 121-96 loss to the Knicks.
A league source told CSNNE.com that Smart was likely to be out for at least two weeks with the injury.
Following the game, head coach Brad Stevens talked about how Smart’s injury didn’t appear initially to be one that would keep him out for an extended period of time like previous ankle and knee injuries he has suffered since joining the Celtics.
“Early indications are that it looks like hopefully not too long term,” Stevens said. “We don’t know what that means; we’ll have a better idea in the next couple of days.”
This is the first NBA training camp for Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown who acknowledged the impact that Smart has made on him and his fellow teammates.
“He’s one of those type of players you want to play with; you don’t want to play against,” Brown said. “Marcus brings crazy energy to our team, crazy toughness to our team.”
Celtics big man Jordan Mickey had similar comments about Smart.
“He’s our bulldog,” Mickey said. “He’ll guard the best guards they have. He’ll even guard the four-man (power forward). He’s a guy that doesn’t stop; he’ll give you all he has every night.
Mickey added, “him with the ankle sprain hurts us, but that’s why we have other guys ready to step up and play a role.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday’s game.
The more he plays, the more you have to love what he’s bringing to the floor. He had 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting in just 14 minutes of court time. And with Marcus Smart out for at least a couple weeks, look for Rozier to be an even more integral part of what the Celtics look to do at the start of the season.
He was easily the best player New York put on the floor Wednesday night, and he has the numbers to back it up. He played just under 23 minutes but still managed to score a game-high 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting with three rebounds and two steals.
Mickey had a solid night scoring the ball as well as on the boards. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.
Brown has had better shooting games (5-for-14), but that still didn’t prevent him from making his presence felt. He led all Celtics with 17 points scored and finished the preseason averaging a team-high 23 minutes per game.
There were other Knicks players who had better numbers on Wednesday than Vujacic, but his play was instrumental in New York taking control in the first half and never relinquishing it. He would finish with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting along with four assists. In addition, he had a game-high plus/minus of +24.
He picked up a pair of fouls early in the first quarter and never seemed to get on track afterwards. Jennings missed all six of his shots from the field but did make three of four free throws to finish with three points. He joined teammate Lance Thomas as the only Knicks players on Wednesday with a negative plus/minus as both finished with a -3 for the game.