Troubling update on Marcus Smart's eye infection overshadows good Gordon Hayward news

Troubling update on Marcus Smart's eye infection overshadows good Gordon Hayward news

The Boston Celtics' quest to get healthy remains a work in progress.

The Celtics officially ruled Gordon Hayward out of Friday's game against the Detroit Pistons due to a foot injury, which apparently has been bothering Hayward for quite some time.

The good news? An MRI on Thursday revealed no structural damage on Hayward's foot, and coach Brad Stevens doesn't believe his injury is long-term.

"Just same pain that hopefully will dissipate in the next couple of days," Stevens told reporters, via NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg. "It’s nothing muscular, it’s nothing bone-wise."

That comes after president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday the Celtics were still trying to determine the nature of Hayward's injury, which he's been dealing with since November.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Stevens' update on Marcus Smart was less promising, however.

The Celtics guard has missed Boston's last four games due to an eye infection, and apparently his eye isn't getting much better.

"The last report I got (from the training staff), they didn’t think they’ve seen one this bad," Stevens told reporters Friday, per Forsberg. 

"He’s just really had a tough go about it. So, I don’t know when he’ll be back. He’s still not around here."

Ainge said Thursday he hopes Smart can return to the team by Christmas for their matchup with the Toronto Raptors.

The silver lining for Boston is that Smart had been fighting through nagging oblique and finger injuries, so his absence entering a soft portion of the schedule may allow those ailments to further heal.

Another silver lining? Detroit also is dealing with injuries, as Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard and Christian Wood all are expected to miss Friday's game at TD Garden.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pistons, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics' Jayson Tatum reflects on 'surreal' workouts with Kobe Bryant

Celtics' Jayson Tatum reflects on 'surreal' workouts with Kobe Bryant

Jayson Tatum has already accomplished plenty in his young NBA career, and there are many more memorable moments to come for the Boston Celtics superstar.

But it'll be difficult for anything to top his unforgettable experience working out with his idol, Kobe Bryant.

Two years ago, the late Los Angeles Lakers legend reached out to Tatum and took him under his wing. Tatum opened up about the amazing opportunity on a recent episode of New Orleans Pelicans guard J.J. Redick's "The Old Man & the Three" podcast.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers, which begins Monday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 6:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

"It started back when we were in the playoffs. Kobe was doing the 'Detail' documentary thing on ESPN," Tatum said. "We were playing Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. We just played Game 1. So we got practice the next day to get ready for Game 2. Come back, sit down at my locker, look at my phone and he would tweet the link out. I saw Kobe tweeted me, I was like 'Oh, [expletive].'

"I literally sat there and watched it like 20 times in a row. He did a 'Detail' of me in Game 1. And then I guess he went through my agent and texted me. He said, 'Young fella, happy for your success. Stay focused. Keep going. If you're in L.A. this summer and you want to work out, just let me know.' I was like, I can't believe it ..."

Tatum even went as far as to call his workout with Bryant the second-best day of his life.

"It was just a surreal moment," Tatum said. "Just looking at him, remembering myself when I was a toddler, just a young kid watching him on TV and being like 'That's who I want to be like. This is why I love basketball.' He inspired me.

"Fast-forward, now I'm 20 and I'm having a one-on-one interaction with him ... Besides my son being born, that's like the best day of my life just to be in that gym with him and work out with him and learn some tips. I'll never forget that day, how I felt going into the workout, how I felt afterward. I just felt like that was the coolest thing ever for me. I'll never forget that."

Watch the full clip below:

It's clear Tatum will forever cherish that time spent with his hero. And there's no doubt Bryant would be proud of the player Tatum already has developed into at 22 years old.

Tatum and the Celtics will begin their quest for Banner 18 when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live starting right here on NBC Sports Boston at 5:30 p.m.

NBA odds: Celtics already huge favorites in playoff series vs. 76ers

NBA odds: Celtics already huge favorites in playoff series vs. 76ers

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will renew their rivalry with a first-round series in the 2020 NBA playoffs, and the C's already are massive betting favorites to advance.

The Celtics went 5-3 in the seeding games and played really well overall, highlighted by a dominant win over the second-place Toronto Raptors. Boston also has a healthy roster entering the postseason with several of its best players performing at a very high level, most notably Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Celtics-76ers first-round playoff series. You can also stream all games on the MyTeams App.

The seeding games haven't gone well for the Sixers. They have a 3-4 seeding game record entering Friday's finale versus the Raptors, and All-Star point guard Ben Simmons recently left the league's bubble to undergo knee surgery. Simmons reportedly is expected to miss the remainder of the season, and without him, the Sixers are losing an elite player at both ends of the court. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in four games against the Celtics during the regular season, and Philadelphia won three of those matchups.

Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid picked up an ankle injury last Sunday and missed Tuesday's game before returning to Philly's lineup Wednesday night. 

Oddsmakers are pretty confident the Celtics will win their fifth straight playoff series versus the Sixers. Here are the latest betting lines for this Round 1 matchup, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Celtics to win series: -375
76ers to win series: +270

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index also likes the Celtics to advance, giving Boston a 72 percent chance of eliminating the Sixers. In fairness to the 76ers, they do still have a talented team without Simmons. Embiid is one of the league's best centers, Tobais Harris can score 20-plus points any night and Al Horford does a little bit of everything. 

That said, the Celtics absolutely should beat the shorthanded Sixers in Round 1. Boston has more shooting, a deeper roster, much better coaching and is playing better in the bubble than its longtime rival.