As expected, Celtics guard Avery Bradley will not suit up for Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Stevens wasn't ready to name Bradley's replacement early on Tuesday, but at his pregame press conference he made it official: Marcus Smart will get the start.
“Obviously Marcus and Evan [Turner] have both started when Avery’s been out in the past," Stevens said. "And it’s more about being able to balance lineups and balance matchups and those type of things.”
Smart scored 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting (including 3-for-6 from three-point range) in Game 1, grabbed five rebounds, dished out two assists, and had two steals.
He also committed a bad foul late in the fourth quarter of a one-possession game. It’s not the first head-scratching foul Smart has committed late in games, and he will undoubtedly be faced with more important moments and decisions as his role increases with Bradley out.
It's obviously an important game for everybody on the Celtics - heck, it's probably the most important game of most of their careers - but this is doubly so for Smart, who gets a chance to prove he can rise to the occasion in a big time of need. Smart is a fairly polarizing player amongst Celtics fans, and if he wants to show he's capable of living up to the No. 6 pick in the draft two seasons ago, a strong performance Tuesday night will go a long way.
There's no doubting Smart's positive affect on the Celtics when he's on the court, especially on the defensive end. But to some he's more of an energy player who provides defense off the bench.
In the regular season, Smart averaged 9.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in 29 minutes of action per game.
He can expect those minutes to rise on Tuesday, as can the rest of Boston’s guards with Bradley out.
“The bottom line is all four of those guards, and when I talk all four of those guards, Isaiah [Thomas], Marcus [Smart], Jae [Crowder], and Evan [Turner] will all play 30-plus minutes," Stevens said. "We can start any three of them, but they’re all going to play a lot.”