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 achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

File photo

Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

BOSTON -- Mission accomplished.

The Celtics went into the offseason planning to bring back all their core players from last season’s squad, which came within a victory of getting to the NBA Finals.

The last bit of business is now taken care of with Marcus Smart coming to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract.

A restricted free agent this summer, Smart was unable to secure an offer sheet from another team. The Celtics had maintained all along they would match any offer within a reasonable amount. 

They never put a specific number on how high they would go, but most league executives believed a team would have to sign Smart to an offer sheet of at least $15 million in order for the Celtics to allow him to walk.


Signing Smart solidifies what’s shaping up as one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA. All-Star Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are the starters, with Smart and Terry Rozier coming off the bench.

There were moments during negotiations when Smart was reportedly disappointed and frustrated by the lack of attention the Celtics were paying him through the process. But Boston maintained all along that re-signing him was its No. 1 priority, and that position never changed.

Even when Smart’s return was far from a given, the Celtics still had a roster that was viewed by many as one of the best in the NBA. When LeBron James left Cleveland to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, that instantly catapulted the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference. (Story continues below.)


At 1:26 mark: A. Sherrod Blakey, Kyle Draper, Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek discuss the Smart deal prior to its finalization


Now with Smart set to return, Boston’s position among its Eastern Conference brethren remains strong as ever, even with the Raptors trading for two-way standout Kawhi Leonard.

The Celtics' journey towards the NBA Finals will involve them leaning on a variety of players with a varying amount of strengths and skills. That's why re-signing Smart was so important.

The recipe for postseason success is an unpredictable one; it requires having as much elite versatility on the roster as possible. That's what Smart brings: An ability to impact games when there’s a great need for toughness defensively, which is often in the closing moments of matchups.


That’s why you’ll often find Smart on the floor in close games, regardless of how well or woeful he might be shooting that night.

Because as much as the analytics folks of the world would love to see better numbers by Smart when he’s on the floor, it always comes back to winning games for the 6-foot-4 guard.

And as much of a head-scratcher he may be when it comes to shooting, he never loses sight of the ultimate goal -- winning -- which is why Boston’s quest towards Banner 18 is even more alive and well with his return.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

1:26 - Marcus Smart and the Celtics are reportedly finalizing a 4 year contract. A. Sherrod Blakey and Kyle Draper join Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss the deal and debate if the Celtics are overpaying for Smart.

6:17 - Kawhi Leonard has finally been traded. The Spurs shipped him to the Raptors in a package centered around DeMar DeRozan. Cedric Maxwell breaks down who got the best end of the deal and if he was surprised Kawhi got sent to Toronto.

11:18 - Darrelle Revis has officially retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, including one season with the Patriots where he won his only Super Bowl ring. Chris Gasper along with Tanguay and Trenni discuss Revis’ legacy.