Marcus Smart sustained a right thumb sprain injury against the Detroit Pistons when the Boston Celtics won on Sunday night, forcing him to miss Monday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. Tremont Waters started in his place, and the team was still able to get the job done without him. The Raptors are off to a slow start this year, and so is tonight’s opponent – the Miami Heat. Thankfully, Boston will have the heart of the team back on the floor for this Eastern Conference Finals rematch.
The Boston Celtics say Marcus Smart will play tonight. Jeff Teague is out.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) January 6, 2021
It’s funny, the only thing this week is missing is a game against the Philadelphia 76ers to complete the revenge tour against their 2020 playoff opponents. The Miami Heat aren’t setting the world on fire with how they’ve started off this season, but the Celtics (who haven’t set the world on fire either with their 5-3 record) can’t afford to take this Heat team easily. This is a good opportunity for the team to establish what kind of character they want the team to have this season. Will they stroll into this game as a regular January game on a random Wednesday night, or will they use this opportunity to send a message?
The Celtics will remain without Jeff Teague, who suffered a right ankle injury and was questionable ahead of being ruled out. Without Teague and Smart, Payton Pritchard put on a master class against the Raptors in just his third week as a professional basketball player in the regular season, totaling 23 points and 8 assists in 32 minutes. With Teague still out, Pritchard should still get a chunk of minutes to continue to carve out his spot in the rotation even when Kemba Walker returns later this month.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 3-3 Miami Heat come out in this game, especially with Jimmy Butler struggling. Additionally, it’ll be interesting to see if Brad Stevens sticks with the Daniel Theis-Tristan Thompson starting lineup that has been heavily criticized by fans. Will he adjust, or will the insistence on that lineup pay off with positive dividends eventually?
There are a lot of questions an hour ahead of tip off, and we won’t get all the answers tonight. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers at least. The 5-3 Boston Celtics will take on the 3-3 Miami Heat in an ESPN showdown at 7:30 PM EST.