Celtics

With injuries to both ankles, Smart ruled out vs. Sixers

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With injuries to both ankles, Smart ruled out vs. Sixers

PHILADELPHIA – Already down one All-Star, the Boston Celtics head into tonight’s game against Philadelphia without one of their biggest difference-makers in Marcus Smart.

The 6-foot-4 guard has been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Sixers due to a sprained left ankle injury he suffered in Boston’s 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.

He will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aron Baynes. 

Celtics said the decision to go with Baynes was in part due to ensuring that Terry Rozier continues coming off the bench where he has been one of Boston’s most productive backups.

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Smart, speaking to reporters this morning, said he actually rolled both of his ankles in the loss to the Bucks.
 
But as he sat on the sidelines during Boston’s morning shoot-around, only the left ankle was heavily taped.
 
The absence of Smart only compounds a Celtics team that’s still coming to grips with the loss of Gordon Hayward who underwent successful bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland.
 
Smart is well aware of the Celtics are still in search of their first win of the season, a fact that in many ways brings about a heightened sense of urgency to get a victory.
 
However, the Celtics’ handling of Smart is similar to how they dealt with Marcus Morris who had some left knee soreness that will keep him out for at least another week.
 
“It’s a long season, so we just want to make sure I’m 100 percent before we risk anything. It’s the third game into the season,” Smart said.

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Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

Two games in and the return of Marcus Smart has had the effect many predicted it would for Boston.

There may be other Celtics who score more points, tally more assists and snare a few more rebounds.

But the impact of Smart’s play on what truly matters – winning – is undeniable.

His play was one of the keys to Boston’s 121-112 win at New York on Saturday night.

Smart came off the bench to score 11 points to go with five assists and three steals.

In his two games back, Smart is averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 64.3 percent from the field.

Yes, it’s a small sample size for sure.

More than anything, it serves as a reminder of how one of Smart’s greatest assets as a player is his ability to contribute in a multitude of ways.

“He just adds a lot of versatility to our offense and our defense,” Boston’s Kyrie Irving told NBC Sports Boston following Saturday’s game. “He has a high awareness on both ends. He’s able to create opportunities for all of us at both ends of the floor and we appreciate that.”

Certainly Smart is credited for being a good defender, and his play-making skills have improved dramatically in the last year or so.

But arguably Smart’s biggest contribution is that his play allows others around him, to focus on whatever it is that they do well, knowing that Smart has the ability to do both his job as well as provide help when needed.

Boston’s defense struggled mightily before the break with teams scoring seemingly whenever they wanted to.

But in the last two games, Boston has looked more like the defensive unit that has been among the NBA’s best most of this season.

In the last two games, Boston’s defensive rating has been 104.5 which ranks 11th in the NBA during that span.

Several factors have played a role in Boston’s improved defense the last two games; among them being the return of Smart who missed 11 games after punching a picture frame last month that left him with 20 stitches.

“It’s the appreciation of Marcus Smart right there,” Irving said. “Implement him and him just putting his stamp and identity on our team as well. It just makes a lot of other guy’s job, easier. Because he covers up a lot of our mistakes as well as playing with unbelievable awareness at both ends of the floor. He understands spacing, he understands how the little things matter.”

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Kyrie is not happy with Zaza Pachulia

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Kyrie is not happy with Zaza Pachulia

The Celtics defeated the Knicks in a game that had a little bit of everything Saturday night.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics to victory and dominated in all of the important situations.

But he came out of the night a little pissed off.

During the Warriors-Thunders game tonight, Russell Westbrook drove to the paint and fell to the ground.

After Westbrook fell to the ground Zaza Pachulia appears to intentionally fall on to the back of his legs.

The play irritated Irving enough for him to air out his thoughts publicly on Instagram.