Marcus Smart

Celtics Notes: Williams, Slump, Adjustments

Celtics center Robert Williams will be active for Tuesday’s game against the Kings, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Point guard Marcus Smart and big man Al Horford will also be able to suit up for Boston.

Williams has already missed 44 games this season with various maladies. Most recently, he has been sidelined for Boston’s last eight contests with a hamstring injury. The 6’9″ big man has averaged 8.4 PPG on 75% shooting for the Celtics this season. He’s also chipping in 8.6 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1.2 BPG.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Williams’ recent extended absence, along with the lackluster shooting of Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, are big factors behind the club’s recent performative decline, opines Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. That said, the team has also suffered some inexplicable defeats recently, staggering instead of striding toward the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  • The Celtics have dropped to the East’s No. 3 seed following an 8-7 run across their past 15 contests. Jared Weiss of The Athletic outlines the steps Boston can take to pivot from this recent skid and improve their play down the season’s home stretch.
  • As we previously discussed, the Celtics could be in line to receive a very valuable bonus second-round draft pick courtesy of the Trail Blazers or Rockets, thanks to stipulations from two separate trades.

Celtics Notes: Griffin, Tatum, Smart, Stoudamire

Celtics players have been impressed by the way former All-Star Blake Griffin has made the transition to role player. Griffin’s work ethic hasn’t waned, even though he’s no longer the high-flying, high-scoring big man who starred for the Clippers and Pistons, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes.

“You just don’t see that with guys that were at his level,” forward Jayson Tatum said. “It’s been really unique to see. I appreciate that a lot. The guys do as well. He never makes it about himself, and it’s contagious. His energy, his enthusiasm, his personality. We’re all very fortunate to have him as a teammate, because everybody respects him and respects what he’s accomplished, and his voice carries.”

Griffin is on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract and will be a free agent again this summer.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Tatum may be a candidate for the Most Valuable Player award and All-NBA First Team accolades but he’s only got one goal in mind, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “The only thing that matters to me is winning a championship,” Tatum said. “Not MVP, not first-team All-NBA, none of that. I want to get back to the Finals and get over the hump.”
  • Marcus Smart has been fined $25K for initiating an on-court altercation and pulling Hawks guard Trae Young to the floor, the NBA PR department tweets. Both players were assessed a technical foul and Smart was ejected during the altercation, which occurred with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 134-125 win over the Hawks on Saturday.
  • The team has no plans to immediately replace Damon Stoudamire on Joe Muzzalla‘s staff, Himmelsbach tweets. Stoudamire left his assistant coaching job to become Georgia Tech’s head coach.

Celtics Notes: R. Williams, Pritchard, Smart, Roster Spot

Robert Williams said he’s “feeling good” a week after straining his left hamstring and tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that he hopes to be able to play sometime during the Celtics‘ six-game road trip. However, Williams cautioned that there’s no target date for him to return and said he won’t try to rush back.

“It’s obviously something I want to do, but just trying to check these boxes and make sure it’s straight,” Williams about returning to the court. “It’s kind of tricky, because you can feel great and then get out there and do one hard move and get the pain back, so just trying to watch it.”

Williams added that he’s not sure what caused the injury, which happened during a March 3 game. He said the hamstring started to feel tight while he was running, and he wanted to keep moving to see if that would cause it to loosen up.

The Celtics are likely to be careful with Williams, who has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout his career. He missed the first 32 games of this season while recovering from maintenance surgery on his left knee and has been available for just 28 games.

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Payton Pritchard, who sat out Friday’s game with a heel issue, didn’t accompany the team for the start of the road trip, Himmelsbach adds. Coach Joe Mazzulla wasn’t able to provide an update on Pritchard’s condition during tonight’s pre-game meeting with reporters. The Celtics may keep two-way player JD Davison on their active roster while Pritchard is unavailable, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • Marcus Smart offered his support to Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who was fined $30K this week for harsh criticism of NBA officials, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Smart, who has been involved in numerous run-ins with referees during his career, said he has felt that some officials have “a personal vendetta” against him. “As players we just want that consistency,” Smart said. “Just like for us, we get emotional, too. But, for us, we get in trouble for it. And we just want that consistency around. And that’s it. So I had that in the past but, like I said, I’m going to let Fred do all my talking around that.”
  • The Celtics appear content to wait to fill their open roster spot, Robb writes in a mailbag column. He points out that the team saves thousands of dollars in luxury tax payments every day that the slot remains open and that whoever is ultimately signed shouldn’t be a factor in the postseason. Robb expects the front office to move slowly and see if any emergency needs arise.

Marcus Smart To Return Wednesday For Celtics

Celtics guard Marcus Smart will return to action on Wednesday in the team’s final game before the All-Star break, as Jared Weiss of The Athletic relays (via Twitter).

Smart sprained his right ankle last month in a January 21 win over Toronto. Shortly after suffering the injury, he said he hoped to be back within a week or two, but he ended up being sidelined for about three-and-a-half weeks, missing 11 Celtics games during that time.

Boston’s roster has been a little banged up as of late, with Jaylen Brown out due to a facial fracture while Jayson Tatum (non-COVID illness) and Al Horford (right knee swelling) missed the first game of a back-to-back set on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

Brown will remain on the shelf until sometime after the All-Star break, but according to Weiss, Tatum and Horford will be available on Wednesday vs. Detroit.

Smart, the reigning defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 11.1 PPG, a career-high 7.2 APG, and 3.4 RPG on .422/.333/.767 shooting in 41 games (32.4 MPG) for the Celtics this season. He hasn’t come off the bench for the club in nearly two years, so he’s a safe bet to be reinserted into the starting lineup in his first game back.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart Hopes To Return In 1-2 Weeks

Celtics guard Marcus Smart missed his second straight game on Tuesday versus Miami after sustaining a sprained right ankle Saturday against Toronto. While there’s no official timeline for his return, and he plans to be cautious in his recovery, he hopes to return in a “week or two,” per Souichi Terada of

I don’t want to go out there and just rush back,” Smart said pregame Tuesday, “and we’re in this same predicament a couple months from now, a couple days from now, a couple weeks from now when I do come back and it just stays lingering than it has to.”

According to Terada, Smart was unable to put weight on his ankle and had to be helped off the floor by Boston’s training staff. The 28-year-old says he aggravated an old injury, as he dealt with a bone bruise on the outside of his ankle during last year’s playoff run.

I got the bone bruise on the outside, but now I’m dealing with the bone bruise on the inside as well,” Smart said. “Some scar tissue that was there. That’s really it. So we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

As Terada writes, the Celtics are pretty shorthanded tonight. In addition to Smart, Jaylen Brown (adductor management), Al Horford (lower back stiffness) and Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons) are all out.

Through 41 games (32.4 MPG), the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 11.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.2 APG and 1.3 SPG on .422/.333/.787 shooting. Backup guard Payton Pritchard should continue to play an increased role with his fellow backcourt teammates out — he got his second start of the season on Tuesday.

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Stoudamire, All-Star Game, Smart

Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire said he frequently checks in with suspended coach Ime Udoka, whom he’s known for 30 years. Stoudamire has tried to give him advice and keep his spirits high, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports.

“I think that everything that happens to you, when it hits you like this it can really get overwhelming,” Stoudamire said. “So that’s what I check on him about. I check on him to make sure he’s doing all right, and make sure his son is good, and that he’s able to find some type of peace within what he has going on. As a human being when you do something, you beat yourself down. And with the success that we’re having now, it’s human nature, man. You’re sitting there; you’re watching [the team]. I just think the biggest thing is that he’s able to, in his own way, come to some kind of resolution and peace in his mind so he can move forward.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • In the same story, Stoudamire expressed a desire to be an NBA head coach. He was a head coach at Pacific prior to joining the Celtics staff. He filled in for interim coach Joe Mazzulla when Mazzulla missed a couple of games due to eye irritation. “Of course I want to be a head coach again, but more importantly I want to be prepared when the opportunity presents itself,” Stoudamire said.
  • The Celtics will file an application to host the 2026 All-Star Game, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Boston has gone nearly 60 years without hosting it, mainly due to modest interest within the city and among the team’s ownership groups. That thinking has changed because the Celtics expect to remain in championship contention behind All-Star talents Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Having an upgraded facility, plus plenty of hotel space near the arena, has also encouraged the current owners to bid for the game.
  • Marcus Smart has been ruled out for Monday’s game in Orlando due to a sprained ankle suffered Saturday night in Toronto, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Malcolm Brogdon will also miss the game due to personal reasons, while Robert Williams (knee) is questionable.

Atlantic Notes: Pritchard, Celtics, Harris, VanVleet

Payton Pritchard showed on Saturday night that he’s too valuable for the Celtics to consider moving him before the trade deadline, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. Injuries gave Pritchard a chance to play with the game on the line and he delivered 12 fourth-quarter points, including a three-pointer that turned out to be the game-winner.

Pritchard has recently overtaken Sam Hauser in Boston’s rotation, and he was in the game at crunch time due to injuries to Marcus Smart and Derrick White. Robb acknowledges that several teams have expressed interest in Pritchard, but he doesn’t believe the Celtics can improve their title chances by trading him.

“I’m happy for Payton,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “This league can be unforgiving at times. You have to be strong-minded, you got to work hard, you got to be patient. Payton’s all of those things. I’ve always told him: Whenever it’s his time, I trust him completely. He was great tonight.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Smart and Robert Williams both left Saturday’s game with injuries, but the Celtics don’t sound overly concerned about either of them, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart suffered a sprained right ankle, but X-rays were negative and he’s considered day to day. Williams didn’t return after halftime due to a hyperextended left knee, but Mazzulla assured reporters that he’s OK.
  • The Sixers‘ best option is to hold onto Tobias Harris, at least through the end of this season, contends Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Harris delivered 17 points, six assists and five rebounds Saturday as Philadelphia won at Sacramento without Joel Embiid and James Harden, and Pompey points out that Harris’ willingness to adapt to changing roles has made the Sixers seem like legitimate title contenders. Harris has one year left on his contract, and Pompey believes that if the team wants to unload him, it will be easier this summer when he has an expiring deal.
  • The Raptors fell to 20-27 with Saturday’s loss, and Fred VanVleet understands that the team needs to start winning to avoid major changes at the deadline, per Michael Grange of “In my seven years going through it, you realize there’s nothing you can do about it,” VanVleet said. “The better you play and the better your team does, the lower the chance anybody getting shipped out of here.”

Health Updates: Luka, LeBron, Bam, Smart, Vassell, Bol

Luka Doncic is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest at the Clippers, the Mavericks announced (via Twitter). The star guard is dealing with left ankle soreness.

Doncic is one of the NBA’s best players and a leading MVP candidate, so obviously his potential absence would be detrimental to the team’s chances — Dallas has gone 0-4 this season without him, including Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City.

The 23-year-old is having a remarkable season. Through 37 games (36.9 MPG), he’s averaging a league-leading 34.0 PPG, plus 8.8 RPG, 8.7 APG and 1.6 SPG on .499/.355/.742 shooting. The points, steals, FG% and 3PT% are all career highs, as is his 61.3 true shooting percentage.

The Mavs are currently 23-18, the No. 4 seed in the West.

Here are some more health updates from around the NBA:

  • After previously being downgraded to questionable with left ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has now been ruled out for tonight’s matchup at Denver, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. In his 20th season, the reigning Western Conference player of the week is averaging 29.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.0 SPG on .510/.295/.756 shooting through 31 games (35.9 MPG).
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo has a right hand injury, which is why he sat out the final 5:11 of Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). Adebayo said he’s actually been dealing with it for a few days, but the injury was aggravated in the first half. “I don’t know how he’ll feel tomorrow,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “There was a really hard hand contusion in the first half and he tried to gut it out in the second half, and you could see he was basically playing with one hand. It was just extremely sore. So I had to make that tough call and take the decision out of his hands in the fourth quarter and we’ll just evaluate him tomorrow.” Adebayo said X-rays were negative, and an MRI on Monday revealed a wrist contusion, but nothing more serious. He’s officially listed as questionable for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Thunder, according to Chiang (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Monday’s game against Chicago, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart is dealing with a left knee contusion. Fellow guards Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon should see an uptick in minutes with Smart sidelined.
  • The Spurs didn’t announce a timeline for Devin Vassell‘s return following knee surgery, but head coach Gregg Popovich said on Friday that the third-year guard is expected to be back later this season. “I’m thinking maybe a little after the All-Star break,” he said, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Forward Bol Bol has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and will rejoin the Magic for Tuesday’s contest at Portland, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). Bol will ultimately miss four games after entering the protocols last Tuesday — he’s out for tonight’s matchup at Sacramento. The 23-year-old is having a breakout fourth season for Orlando, averaging 12.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 1.6 BPG on .588/.388/.739 shooting through 37 games (32 starts, 26.1 MPG).

Celtics’ Marcus Smart Fined $35K By NBA

Celtics guard Marcus Smart was fined $35K for “directing inappropriate language toward a game official,” the NBA announced (via Twitter).

Smart received a second technical foul and was ejected for the incident during Tuesday’s blowout loss in Oklahoma City.

The veteran guard is no stranger to fines, having been docked several times over the course of his nine-year career. The 28-year-old was the No. 6 overall pick of the 2014 draft and has spent his entire career with Boston.

Through 34 games (32.9 MPG) in 2022/23, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 11.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, a career-high 7.4 APG, and 1.3 SPG on .424/.333/.763 shooting splits. The Celtics are currently 26-12, the top record in the league.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, G. Williams, Stevens, Smart, R. Williams

In an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon says he isn’t interested in the Sixth Man of the Year award (Twitter video link).

I really don’t care about that award at all. I really want to win with this team — I came here to win a championship, to put up banner 18. And that accolade really means nothing. I want to win,” he said.

Brogdon, acquired in offseason trade with Indiana, has a strong case for the award, even if he doesn’t care about it. Through 27 games (24.1 MPG), he’s averaging 14.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.8 APG on an excellent .482/.451/.855 shooting slash line.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics have hit some adversity for the first time in 2022/23, dropping five of their past seven games, including a lackluster performance on Wednesday against Indiana, when Boston trailed by 28 at halftime. As Jay King of The Athletic writes, the poor stretch seems like a “meaningful moment” to see how the team responds. Forward Grant Williams agrees. “We can let it derail our season,” Williams said, “or we can let it shift and make us understand where we’re trying to be and allow us to zone back in. Because in a month like this, where you’re approaching January in midseason, you can easily take your foot off the gas and step back. But for a team to be great, for a team to be special, for a team to do what we want to do, you can’t do that.” For what it’s worth, the Celtics beat Minnesota on Friday, recapturing the No. 1 seed in the East after the Bucks lost to the Nets.
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens says he will continue to evaluate the roster and make changes if needed ahead of the trade deadline, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (subscriber link). “Listen, we want to win, there’s no question about it. We have a really good team and hopefully we are playing great over the next couple of months, but we’ll evaluate that and we’ll make decisions, right or wrong, we think may give us the best chance at winning,” Stevens said.
  • Stevens also gave a strong endorsement for interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, Washburn adds in the same story. “It’s been really good,” Stevens said of Mazzulla’s job performance. “Looking at where we started from the start of training camp, the leadership, the organization, the way that everybody embraced him, he’s very open to people to the different ideas that they have, maybe too open sometimes, he’s been great.”
  • Guard Marcus Smart (non-COVID illness) returned to the lineup on Friday after missing Wednesday’s game, but big man Robert Williams was ill and ruled out, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Williams just made his season debut last week after offseason knee surgery, so having him out of the lineup again so soon obviously isn’t ideal. Still, there’s plenty of time left for him to get acclimated ahead of a playoff push.