It feels like Marcus Smart has grown accustomed to playing through a litany of ailments that come from his all-out hustle style and the grind of an NBA season.
But Smart won’t be able to push through a right thumb sprain Monday when the Boston Celtics face off against the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics downgraded the starting guard to out for the contest less than two hours prior to tip-off as Smart joins teammates Javonte Green, Jeff Teague, Kemba Walker and Romeo Walker as players on Boston who won’t suit up.
“Just had a scan on that thumb and didn’t look too bad at first glance but we have to be smart about that,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens of Smart in his pregrame press conference with the media. “It’s the one that got fixed a couple years ago.”
Injury updates from Brad Stevens:— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) January 4, 2021
Javonte Green: Out for entire road trip (hopeful when Celtics return home)
Kemba Walker: Out
Romeo Langford: Out
Marcus Smart: Out (thumb)
Jeff Teague: Out (sprained ankle) pic.twitter.com/5pSqLiqWrC
Smart, who was already battling and playing through a shoulder issue, has started all seven games for Boston in its 4-3 start and was coming off a 17-point, 10-assist performance in the C’s 122-120 win over the Pistons on Sunday.
With Smart and Teague both sidelined, it will open up even more of a role for rookie guard Payton Pritchard, who presumably is in line to make his first career NBA start. Pritchard along with Tremont Waters are expected to get the lion’s share of the minutes versus Toronto’s dynamic backcourt, which features Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.
Boston is down Marcus Smart and Jeff Teague tonight. Big opportunity for Payton Pritchard and probably Tremont Waters tonight. Possibly opens the door for Aaron Nesmith, as the Celtics had been running a ton of two PG lineups. Probably not a thing with Pritchard and Waters.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 4, 2021