Already facing an 0-1 series deficit, the Boston Celtics are going to face even more adversity without the heart and soul of the team Marcus Smart. Smart was banged up in Game 1 when faced against Milwaukee’s size and physicality, and now the right quad contusion that left him hobbling in the first game will leave him out completely in Game 2.
#NEBHInjuryReport update:— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 3, 2022
Marcus Smart (right thigh contusion) - OUT
Smart was deemed questionable since yesterday after he was able to finish the game on Sunday. Although he stayed in, it was clear that the injury hampered the current Defensive Player of the Year. As the game wore on, Smart wasn’t able to find a good groove offensively, and he was just one of several players who was off the mark. Smart finished with 10 points on 3-11 shooting to go with 6 assists and 2 steals.
Without Smart in the lineup, Jaylen Brown will certainly need to return to All-Star form after an uncharacteristic performance. Usually against the Bucks, Brown is fired up. After an early putback slam over Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brown struggled all afternoon to gain a rhythm. He gave the ball away way too often, finishing with 7 turnovers. Brown finished the game with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, and he was a -12, the worst among starters.
Who will step up for Smart in the starting lineup? Because of Milwaukee’s size and strength, I’d bet the Udoka will go with Derrick White over Payton Pritchard. White has yet to have a great game offensively in five postseason games. Pritchard may not start, but he will be incredibly valuable if he can get his shot going. Pritchard was funneled 3-point shots at the beginning of the fourth quarter on Sunday, and he went 2-8 the whole game. Milwaukee is literally gifting Boston 3-pointers as an offensive strategy, so the team’s best shooter has to make them pay.
It’s not going to be easy without Marcus Smart tonight, but if the team cleans up mistakes and makes more than 10 two-pointers all night, they’ll be in business. It would be a disaster to head to Milwaukee down 0-2, so this is already the biggest game of the season. If Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the regulars put in the work and lock in, Smart will have had 6 days off to rest and we’ll have a tied series going into Game 3.