The Boston Celtics will be heading into tomorrow night’s Rivalry Week matchup against the New York Knicks relatively healthy except for starting point guard Marcus Smart, who’s nursing a right ankle sprain injury that was sustained last Saturday against the Toronto Raptors. This is a big boost for a Celtics team riding a two-game slump after the trip to Florida that led back-to-back losses.
Against Miami, the Celtics were down three starters and their sixth man, leading to Payton Pritchard taking a spot in the starting lineup. Without Jaylen Brown (adductor tightness), Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons), Al Horford (rest), and Smart, the Celtics just narrowly lost by three points against a Miami team missing Jimmy Butler. Getting most of those rotation pieces back will certainly help against a New York team that has taken turns between being pretty solid and pretty bad at times this season.
Smart’s ankle injury has been labeled as day-to-day. While that leaves us with little details on when he could return to the floor, at least we don’t have to wonder if Joe Mazzulla can do a somersault:
Joe Mazzulla just walked past Marcus Smart in the locker room, did a full somersault in front of him, turned and said ‘you can’t do that.” Then walked out.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 24, 2023
Danilo Gallinari remains out with his ACL surgery rehab. It doesn’t look likely that he’ll be able to suit up this season. It’s a real shame, because Boston’s very thin on the wing, and he could help in that area at least a little. While Sam Hauser appeared to break out of his slump Monday night against the Orlando Magic, he was unable to recreate that shooting performance in Miami.
Once the Celtics get fully healthy with Smart’s return, the hope is that it’ll be the start of a good midseason stretch where we can really evaluate what this team looks like at its peak as we approach the trade deadline in two weeks and the All-Star game soon after. Speaking of, the All-Star starters will be revealed tomorrow before the game against New York, so stay tuned for that to see if Jayson Tatum edged out Joel Embiid for the final forward spot in the East.