What Marcus Smart's injury means to the Celtics going forward

What Marcus Smart's injury means to the Celtics going forward

We have seen Marcus Smart go down too many times to count this season, only to rise after gathering himself. 

But what we saw in Boston’s 113-104 win over the New York Knicks looked and felt different, more serious than the usual bumps and bruises he absorbs. 

Smart drew an offensive foul against New York’s Kevin Knox who delivered a hard-driving shoulder into Smart’s abdomen, with him grimacing in pain similar to what we saw last spring when he suffered an oblique injury that sidelined for about a month. 

It’s too soon to say whether this latest injury is along those lines, but the idea of Smart missing some time is not a bad idea. 

He is the heart and soul of this team. 

That’s not in question. 

But he’s also the king of the walking wounded club, a player whose body is covered with soreness, pain and all the bumps and bruises that come about from a player who throws his body around defensively with little to no regard for his general health.

And if we’re talking about Smart missing significant time (which is possible), the Celtics will be challenged moving forward in a way that we have not seen this season when other Celtics have gone down. 

Not only does Smart play an integral role in the team’s functioning at both ends of the floor, but the Celtics have no one on their roster even remotely close to providing what he does on a night-in, night-out basis. 

When Boston has had one of their wings or bigs go down for a while with an injury, there was a clear direction which players would see an uptick in their minutes. 

When Gordon Hayward suffered a hand injury last month, we knew that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum would take on a more pivotal role, along with Brad Wanamaker off the bench. 

And when any of the team’s bigs-by-committee suffered an injury, it was easy to employ the “next-man-up” mantra and know that it would work. 

But if Smart is out for any length of time, all bets are off on how well or woeful the Celtics defense will be, particularly when you consider how they have struggled so mightily in recent games. 

Boston limited the Knicks to just eight made 3-pointers, but allowed New York to shoot better than 50 percent from the field most of the game. 

The Celtics came into the game having allowed their previous three opponents to each make 17 or more 3-pointers, becoming only the seventh team in NBA history to do so. 

And that was with Smart in the lineup. 

Again, it’s too soon to tell how long - if at all - Smart will be out for the Celtics. 

But if he’s anything less than 100 percent, the Celtics have to do their due diligence and save Smart from himself and sit him down for at least a game or two.

His body is as banged up as anyone you’ll find in the NBA, with him playing through injuries to his fingers, a separate knuckle injury, a couple of ankle sprains and a sore hip. 

And he has done so with no complaint, reminding me on Saturday that he has no plans to sit out any games if he doesn’t have to. 

“If I can go, I’m going,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “But if I can’t, I’ll sit. I just feel as long as I’m able to do what I’m capable of doing, I can help this team. And if I feel or the medical staff feels I’m not healthy enough to do that, I won’t play.”

It appears that time might be upon us with Smart’s injury on Sunday looking a lot more serious than his previous bumps and bruises experienced this season. 

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

Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

Celtics vs. Pacers odds: Best NBA picks as C's eye fifth straight win

The Boston Celtics are back to their winning ways ... and so are we.

The Celtics' current hot streak -- four consecutive wins -- coincides with our good luck on the betting front, where we're 4-0 picking the moneyline and point spread in Boston's last two games.

The C's face a tough test Wednesday night when they roll into Bankers Life Fieldhouse to play the Indiana Pacers, who are in the Eastern Conference hunt at 15-9.

How will Wednesday's game shake out? Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Pacers, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET

Moneyline: Gordon Hayward showed virtually no rust in his return Monday night as the Celtics rolled to their sixth win in seven games. The Pacers have been inconsistent over the last two weeks, so I think Boston's talent wins out here. Take the Celtics (-120).

Point Spread: Indiana is a pedestrian 5-5-2 against the spread at home this season. The Celtics have won seven of their last games in Indiana and are well-rested after whupping the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers will put up a fight, but Celtics (-1) is the smart bet here.

Point Total: The Celtics boast the NBA's second-best defense. The Pacers are sixth. The total has gone under in nine of Boston's last 12 games and four of Indiana's last five games. Sign me up for the UNDER on the 209.5 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 32-21-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors (+2.5): If I'm on the Raptors, I really want to beat Kawhi Leonard in his return to Toronto. The Clippers are 5-6 on the road this season, and it should be quite the hostile environment Wednesday. I'm backing the home team.

Atlanta Hawks at Chicago Bulls (-5): The Hawks are coming off a brutal overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday (Trae Young called game ... for the wrong team) and haven't won the second leg of a back-to-back yet this season. Chalk this up as a scheduled loss.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 20-15-1

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers live stream: Watch NBA game online

The last time the Celtics faced the Pacers, Boston swept Indiana out of the playoffs with a four-game sweep, with each win coming by 10 points or fewer.

But this year's Pacers club is much different than last year's. Three of Indiana's top four scorers this season — Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, and Jeremy Lamb — are in their first seasons with the Pacers.

Luckily for the C's, they won't have to contend with Victor Oladipo, who is currently on a rehab assignment in the G-League.

The Celtics are currently riding a four-game win streak and just got Gordon Hayward back in the lineup, while the Pacers are coming off an 11-point loss in Paul George's first game back to Indianapolis since joining the Clippers.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the game at 7 p.m. ET or stream it via the MyTeams app


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BEFORE THE GAME: At 6 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Chris MannixMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, Chris Forsberg, Tom Haberstroh, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

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