BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart sustained an oblique bruise to his left side in Sunday’s loss to the Orlando Magic, leaving his availability uncertain for the start of a first-round series against the Indiana Pacers.
Smart endured the bruise when he collided with Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic while trying to intercept a pass midway through the third quarter. Soon after, Smart crumpled to the floor and needed the assistance of trainers to retreat to the locker room.
“Marcus Smart has an oblique bruise, which means he got hit right there,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “And so I guess that’s better than — I don’t know whether it would be called a strain or whatever. But we’ll see what that looks like [Monday]. He was a little sore but was walking around, which was good, in the locker room.”
Smart was the second starter Boston lost to injury on Sunday night, as Jayson Tatum exited in the first quarter with a left shin contusion that Stevens said the player revealed had been bothering him entering Sunday’s game.
Even after Smart injured himself, he tried to stay in the game, convincing Celtics trainer Art Horne that he was OK to continue. Smart kept grabbing at his side during the Celtics’ first offensive possession after a timeout and then tried to signal to the bench to be subbed out as Boston went on defense.
Smart made it over the midcourt stripe before the pain became too much and he went to the floor in clear discomfort. The Celtics intentionally fouled to stop play but Smart laid prone on the court for a short time. He eventually tried to get up and hobble off the court but needed the assistance of two trainers after reaching the sideline.
The Celtics announced the injury as a hip contusion and said he would not return. ESPN reported during the game that Smart had an oblique strain and the team would see how he responded over the next 48 hours.
A strain typically entails a two-week recovery, which could sideline Smart for the start of the postseason. A bruise could entail a shorter recovery.
"I don’t know what they said about either [Smart or Tatum], but we’ve got a couple of days when we can hopefully get them back, ready, and it will be fine and it’s just bumps and bruises,” said Gordon Hayward.
Added Al Horford: “We hope that they’re fine and they’re good to go for Round 1.”
The Celtics had already locked up homecourt advantage in the first round after the Pacers lost to the Nets earlier in the night. Stevens stuck with his plan to play Boston’s regulars and didn’t relent even after the injuries to Smart and Tatum. Boston made a spirited charge before the Magic pulled away for a 116-108 triumph.
Boston needed to win its final two games — and Philadelphia to lose its final two — in order to surge to the No. 3 seed, a spot it might not have even desired given its recent success against the Pacers.
Indiana will come to Boston to open a best-of-seven series next weekend. The Celtics plan to rest their regulars during Tuesday’s regular-season finale in Washington.
Smart missed the first four games of a first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks last year while recovering from a hand injury. He returned in Game 5 to help Boston win a seven-game series before the team surged to the cusp of the NBA Finals.
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