Celtics

Marcus Smart making progress in recovery from oblique injury

Marcus Smart making progress in recovery from oblique injury

BOSTON -- It’ll be a couple more weeks before Marcus Smart, still on the mend from an oblique injury that’s expected to keep him out for at least another month, will have a good sense of how much progress he is making.

“The progress is moving the right way,” Smart said. “That’s all you can ask for.”

Smart, addressing the media for the first time since he suffered the injury against the Orlando Magic on April 7, was in relatively good spirits despite being out for all of the first-round series against Indiana and most if not all of a potential second-round series if they move past the Pacers.


“Today was the first day walking without grimacing, being in pain,” Smart said. “It still hurts to laugh, cough, sneeze but every day stuff is getting better.”

The absence of Smart heading into this series against the Pacers raised questions as to how the Celtics would fare defensively in his absence.

In Game 1, the Celtics delivered one of their best defensive performances this season in beating Indiana 84-74.

Smart, who plans to be on the Celtics bench for Game 2 on Wednesday, was pleased with how the team responded without him.

Players have repeatedly talked about how much they will miss Smart's toughness, leadership and overall impact on games.

But they also know that they must soldier on and find ways to win without the one player mentioned more than any other as the heart and soul of this franchise.

“He means a lot to us, what we're about,” Boston's Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “But it's the playoffs, man. Everybody has to step up and take advantage of this opportunity."

Morris added, “We've been a next-man-up team all year. Now, it's no different. One of our main guys is down, others have to step up. That's what we do; that's who we are.”

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Tacko's dunk contest assist comes up short for runner-up (again) Aaron Gordon

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Tacko's dunk contest assist comes up short for runner-up (again) Aaron Gordon

CHICAGO — Aaron Gordon was down to his final dunk, in need of a 49 or better to win his first slam dunk contest. 

He wanted to do something special, like dunk on a big man. 

Former Celtic Shaquille O'Neal was nearby, but he declined. 

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Gordon took a quick glimpse into the crowd and saw Boston's Tacko Fall nearby. 

Fall —all 7-foot-5 (without shoes) of him—stood in the paint for what was a crowd-razing dunk that many felt would secure Gordon his first slam dunk title. 

Then came back the scores. To the surprise of many, Gordon fell one point short, 48-47, to Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. 

After Gordon's dunk over Tacko, it was clear Jones had doubts about whether he was going to win. 

"He's a very tall human being," Jones said.of Tacko. "If I thought of it earlier, I would have did it."

Gordon added: "What are we doing? Who set the dunk contest up? Who set this up?" 

Then he explained both his disappointment in not winning, and his rationale for involving Tacko. 

"I wanted to jump over Shaq. He didn't want to do it," Gordon explained. "So, it was really for the people. Everybody was like, 'Tacko, Tacko!' He's the tallest dude in the gym. Dunking over somebody whose 7-5 and dunking it, it's no easy feat. What I get like a 47? Come on, man. What we doing?"

Fall is in Chicago this weekend participating in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders as a counselor, along with making some promotional appearances. He's also appeared at some of the All-Star events and more often than not, has received a louder ovation from fans than some of the players who will be playing in Sunday's All-Star Game. 

Aaron Gordon dunks over Tacko Fall in 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Aaron Gordon dunks over Tacko Fall in 2020 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

After Jayson Tatum was eliminated in the first round of the 2020 NBA All-Star Skills Contest, it was assumed that the Boston Celtics' involvement in NBA All-Star Saturday night was finished.

Oh, how wrong we were.

The Celtics did get involved in one of the most epic and controversial Slam Dunk Contests in the history of the NBA. Or rather, one Celtic got involved: Tacko Fall.

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In double overtime of the contest, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic came out to perform the final dunk of the evening. He beckoned for the 7-foot-5 rookie to come out onto the floor with one purpose. He wanted to dunk over Tacko. Fall was reluctant at first but ultimately agreed to do it.

And Gordon was able to clear Tacko and complete the dunk on his first try. Here's a look at the unbelievable moment, courtesy of the NBA's official Twitter account.

What an amazing dunk. There are very few players who could pull this off, but Gordon is obviously one of them.

Despite the epic dunk from Gordon, he was only awarded a 47 on the dunk and as a result, lost by a single point to Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat. It was the only dunk of Gordon's evening on which he didn't receive a max score of 50.

This dunk will surely be talked about in the coming days and Gordon's defeat will be scrutinized in another close and contentious NBA Dunk Contest.