Smart out for Celtics vs Clippers with 'lacerated hand,' Horford also out

Smart out for Celtics vs Clippers with 'lacerated hand,' Horford also out

LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics’ depth in the starting lineup and the bench will both take major hits heading into tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announcing that both Al Horford and Marcus Smart will not play tonight.

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Al Horford is being held out as a precautionary measure after suffering a blow to the head during a collision with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Hart with 19.8 seconds to play in Boston’s 108-107 loss on Tuesday night.

Stevens said Horford was examined by officials who determined he did not have any concussion-like symptoms, but added that they are keeping him out tonight to error on the side of caution which makes sense considering the 6-foot-10 Horford has been in the NBA’s concussion protocol program each of the last two seasons. 

“We’ve talked before and sometimes these symptoms appear after a certain amount of time,” Stevens said. “And so again, it’s the prudent thing to do.”

Horford, who spoke to the media briefly at the Staples Center, said he's doing OK but he's "not where I need to be to play, but I'll be alright."

He added that the Celtics team doctor wanted to "play it on the safe side" and keep him out tonight. 

"He feels strongly about me not doing anything physical today," Horford said. 

Horford later explained his decision to not stay back at the team hotel. 

"What I want to do is I want to be playing," he said. "Since I'm not, I'm here with the guys supporting them."

Marcus Smart’s absence is a bit more mysterious. 

Stevens said he cut his hand this afternoon on glass at the team hotel that required him to go to a nearby hospital for stitches. 

“I don’t know the full story,” Stevens said. “It doesn’t sound like a long-term injury. We’re doing more research on how it happened.”

The fact that the Celtics are investigating this will surely create speculation as to how Smart suffered the injury which was to his right (shooting) hand.

“Obviously, I want to make sure I’m thorough in telling you what happened,” Stevens told reporters a few minutes ago. “Again, I think he cut is hand in the hotel on glass sometime this afternoon.”

Stevens said he had yet to decide on who would be in his starting lineup. One player that will certainly be in consideration to start is Marcus Morris who will be playing in his first set of back-to-back games tonight.

Look for Terry Rozier to see his role increased tonight as well. 

When asked whether he saw it as an opportunity for guys or a huge challenge, Rozier said, "It's part of the NBA. You have to be ready. I'm not saying we got guys that can replace Al, or guys that can replace Smart's energy and things like that. But we're a basketball team, with a lot of great talent. We gotta do what we can to win the game."


Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

WALTHAM, Mass. – The road to getting back atop the Eastern Conference standings for the Boston Celtics following the All-Star break will begin – where else? – on the road.

And that’s a good thing.

Boston, which plays its first two games after the break on the road beginning at Detroit tonight and New York on Saturday, has been among the league’s best all season when it comes to winning on the road.


Only two teams, Golden State (22-7, .759 winning percentage) and Houston (21-7, .750 winning percentage), have a better road winning percentage than the Celtics (19-8, .703 winning percentage) this season.

“Our schedule is really hard as we hit this last home stretch 23 games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And that’s a good thing with us. We are going to have to have that urgency.”

Boston (40-19) has lost three straight and four of its last five games.

Aware of how quickly a couple of losses can snowball into a full-blown losing skid, Boston players understand the importance of playing with a greater sense of urgency.

“I think we have a sense of urgency about ourselves,” Brown said. “I think we understand the second half of the season and the importance of it, getting ready for playoffs. And how you can see some of the older guys, Kyrie (Irving), Al (Horford), the attention to detail, the stress about the little things is becoming more evident.” 

Said Irving: “We hit a little bit of a stretch where we haven’t been playing our type of basketball. Not necessarily being as consistent as we’d like to be. We just want to get back to being consistent and doing the right things.”

Stevens added, “Hopefully these little hiccups that we have had prior to the break, which more pertains to who we are playing … hopefully benefit us down the road.”


Al Horford said more than anything, the Celtics have to ratchet up their attention to details in all phases of play.

“The focus is really now more than any point in the season taking it day-to-day,” Horford said. “And I felt like we got better, today was a good practice. This is a good start, so now for us it’s just to keep building that and just take it game-to-game because these are … the rehearsal games, if you want to call them that. That’s what I like to call it with this group. So, getting everything straightened out for when the playoffs come around.”


CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Anthony Davis opening the door for a trade?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Anthony Davis opening the door for a trade?

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely start off this week's episode talking about the return of Marcus Smart following the All-Star break, and how much the team missed him in their recent skid. Will head coach Brad Stevens make a lineup change, and with more practice time under his belt, will Greg Monroe see his minutes increase?

(9:50) Sherrod talks about his article on NBCSportsBoston.com this week on Kyrie Irving needing to have a 'special' finish to his first season with the Celtics.

(14:15) Would the rumored changes to the NBA Playoff format would be good or bad?

(16:45) Kyle and Sherrod (plus producer Jason Levine joining the fray) have a great debate on the latest tidbit of trade rumblings surrounding New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis. Is the door finally open for the Celtics to swoop in?

(30:40) The guys also talk about the latest news with Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs....could he become available this offseason?

(33:10) Finally, Kyle sits down with Brad Stevens to talk about his trip to Red Sox Spring Training during the break, plus the terrible end to his own baseball career.