The Boston Celtics will have to learn how to win without Marcus Smart.
That’s because Smart isn’t expected to return before the NBA’s All-Star break while he continues to rehab his injury. According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Smart is eyeing to return after the NBA’s March 5-10 break.
ESPN Sources: Boston’s Marcus Smart likely rehabbing his left calf injury through the March 5-10 All-Break with hopes of returning for the start of the season’s second half: https://t.co/T8AnlU7dcq
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 21, 2021
Having Smart back is key to Boston’s success. The Celtics have struggled since he went out with an injury and they are fading fast in the Eastern Conference teams standings. Boston was among the preseason favorites to win the 2021 NBA title but with their current struggles, they have fallen to outside the Top 5 in the championship oddsboards of the best NBA betting sites.
Out with A Calf Injury
Smart suffered a calf injury during Boston’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers last month. The injury happened when Lakers’ forward Montrezl Harrell accidentally stepped on Smart’s foot as he came down after tipping in a missed layup. He was helped to his feet and could not put pressure on his leg and was carried to the locker room. An MRI later revealed the calf strain.
He was expected to miss 2 weeks but has been out for three as of last weekend and the team still has not definite timetable on his return. Smart traveled with the team during Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans and was getting up some shots in pre-game but did not play.
Things we love to see: Marcus Smart back on the court pic.twitter.com/L78VJ0QDuj
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 21, 2021
Smart is averaging career highs in scoring and passing at 13.1 points and 6.1 assists per game while also contributing 2.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest. Aside from being the team’s primary defensive presence and their top assists player this season, the Celtics have missed his energy and leadership on the floor. As a result, the Celtics have struggled without him and have dropped to .500 on the season.
Celtics Drop to 15-15 on The Season
Celtics after 30 games:
This season: 15-15#BleedGreen pic.twitter.com/RXknzZ9dwG
— Ortweets™ (@carlesortiz) February 22, 2021
With their loss to the Pelicans, Boston is just 4-6 in their last 10 games and currently 6th in the Eastern Conference team standings. At 15-15 on the year, this is their worst 30-game start in the last six seasons and it’s now where they want to be at this point of they year.
The Celtics have the third best odds to win the Atlantic Division at +1200. They have the 4th best odds to win the Eastern Conference at +1000 at online sportsbook BetOnline. But if they continue to struggle, they could possibly fall off the ladder very fast.
Although they are just 4.5 games off the no. 1 ranked Philadelphia 76ers, the teams below them are closing in on the Celtics. 9th ranked Charlotte is just one game back while the 12th seeded Orlando Magic are just 2.5 games back.
Having Smart healthy in the playoffs is what matters most to Boston right now so you can’t fault them for not rushing Smart to return. But the other players on the team must step-up no matter what the challenges because Boston is 5-7 without Smart and they can’t afford to keep the same pace with him out for at least the next six games.