DETROIT — It wouldn’t be an NBA season without Marcus Smart nursing an injury and Friday he revealed he’s been playing with a bruised left shoulder sustained in a collision with Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon Sunday.
Smart will play with the shoulder wrapped under his black, fitted compression shirt.
“It’s just a contusion,” he said. “I don’t know how the contusion happened. I don’t know if I was hit [during the collision] or something that was a freak accident. We don’t really know exactly what’s going on because the X-rays came back fine.”
Smart said an MRI revealed no structural damage.
“Just trying to figure out what’s really going on,” he said. “It’s nothing major that’s going to keep me from playing.”
Smart’s scoring average has dipped because he’s taking less shots but his 3-point percentage is an encouraging 42.9 through five games and he’s produced a 4-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio as the team’s primary point guard.
The blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday allowed coach Brad Stevens to get players such as Carsen Edwards, Aaron Nesmith, Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall more than just last-minute appearances. With the Celtics depth in some areas, it’s going to be difficult for those youngsters to break into the rotation.
Rookie Payton Pritchard already has carved out second-unit minutes but Stevens appears content with his rotations.
“Well, the hard part about getting more minutes is that there are guys ahead of them,” Stevens said. “So, not only do you have to be really good, prepare and get better, you also have to displace the person in front of you. All of those things are really hard. I thought that they all provided good things the other day.”
Edwards appeared to make the most of his minutes with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 12 minutes. He has been trying to gain more of a role as a bench scorer.
“I was specifically impressed with the way that Carsen came out and played that entire fourth quarter,” Stevens said. “I thought he did a really good job not only making shots, but also driving the ball and making the right play. So, I thought they all had really good moments, listen, they all are working hard. We don’t get the chance to practice right now, with this stretch you just can’t.
“So, we are doing our team work in the video room, we are doing our team work in meetings and we are doing our team work at shootarounds when we can have them, but those are really, really limited timeframes. So, a lot of the stuff that they are doing are individuals or in small groups, and they have done that religiously — they are working hard at it. But you know, it is the NBA, there are really good players ahead of you sometimes. So, it’s not just about how hard you are working and how much you are improving. Sometimes it’s about health and opportunity through that — and/or you have to beat somebody out.”
The players and coaches exchanged gifts Thursday evening in their hotel in suburban Detroit. Smart said he received some 12-year-old whiskey that was nabbed by another teammate so he ended up with a karaoke set. Stevens did get anything and said he was sleeping by the time midnight struck.
Pistons’ Griffin out
The Celtics may catch a break during this two-game series with the Pistons as former All-Star Blake Griffin is in the league’s concussion protocol and likely will be unavailable for Sunday’s second game … Guard Javonte Green remains out because of COVID-19 protocols and did not travel with the team. That allowed Fall to be on the active list for the second consecutive game … Family members were allowed to attend Friday’s game at Little Caesars Arena and they were socially distanced in the first level. The rest of the level was covered with red tarp.