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Marcus Smart out, Payton Pritchard returns in Indy

One point guard returns, another gets shelved.

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

One step forward, one step back. The Celtics are nearing full health, but it looks like they may need just one more game before they get their truly full complement of players. Per the team, Marcus Smart is doubtful against in Indianapolis tonight with a thigh contusion. Smart suffered the injury on Monday when the Celtics hosted the Pacers at TD Garden.

Smart took a Domantas Sabonis knee to his thigh and left midway through the third quarter. He limped to the locker room under his own power, was initially listed as probable to return, but eventually say out the rest of the overtime win.

After the game, Ime Udoka said, “It tightened up. He felt OK initially when he went to the bench and tried to go in the back and loosen it up and it actually swelled up and tightened up quicker than he thought so wasn’t able to go.” If he doesn’t play against the Pacers, he’ll have a chance to return Friday in Philadelphia.

However, it’s not all bad news for Boston’s backcourt. Payton Pritchard has been upgraded to questionable in a potential return from the league’s health and safety protocols. He’s missed four games and could have been on the cusp of breaking in to the Celtics’ rotation after a strong showing to close 2021.

While many of his teammates were in quarantine before the new year, Pritchard benefitted with a sudden increase in playing time. He averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists over a six-game stretch, including starting twice and hitting 16-of-42 (38.1%) from behind the arc.

UPDATE: