Celtics guard Marcus Smart missed Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the visiting Bucks on Tuesday night because of a right quadriceps contusion.
Smart suffered the injury when he was hit twice in the leg during Boston’s 101-89 loss in Game 1 on Sunday.
“Swelling, pain, restricted movement,” coach Ime Udoka said. “So obviously, swelling and he got hit pretty hard, so just some limited movement that didn’t get better over the day as we thought it would.”
Udoka said with three days off before Saturday’s Game 3 in Milwaukee, Smart will likely be able to return for that game.
Smart, who was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year last month, missed six games in January because a right quadriceps contusion. And his absence in Game 2 created a significant void. Derrick White started in place of Smart and missed all six of his shots, going scoreless in 28 minutes in the Celtics’ 109-86 win. He did have five assists and four rebounds..
“I think [White] does a lot of things well,” Udoka said. “Obviously, it’s hard to make up for Marcus, specifically what he does for our team. But the scheme and coverage doesn’t change. It’s just Derrick is another big guard that we don’t lose a lot as far as size and versatility defensively, and then offensively, he’s very capable of scoring, running the plays, and getting guys involved. The beauty of having him is he checks a lot of those boxes.
“And obviously Payton [Pritchard] is one of our toughest guys. But you have a size disadvantage there, so you lose a little bit as far as that, but not a lot of dropoff with Derrick in there other than the toughness nobody really brings that Marcus has.”
The Celtics limited Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to 9-of-25 shooting in Game 1, but he inflicted damage elsewhere by dishing out 12 assists.
Udoka said Monday that there were times when the Celtics double-teamed Antetokounmpo when it was not necessary. Before Tuesday’s game, Grant Williams said Boston’s defenders need to make timely decisions when determining how to swarm the former league MVP.
“It’s understanding when and where to help and what to do,” Williams said. “Talented player, phenomenal guy. You have to do a good job of playing him solid, keeping him in front, and making sure you get out to the shooters because all of those guys do that extremely well. I think Grayson [Allen] is shooting 65 percent on catch-and-shoots this playoffs, so we have to do a great job on who we’re guarding, when and when not to help.”
Antetokounmpo finished with a team-high 28 points in Game 2, making 11 of 27 shots with nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Bucks have an imposing frontline and have made it clear they will make life difficult for the Celtics at the rim. That approach should create opportunities in the perimeter, though. The Celtics attempted 50 3-pointers in Game 1, and another 43 in Game 2, making 20.
“I think it’s about taking open looks, no matter what they are, trusting your shooting, trusting your process, because you can’t get jump-shot happy,” Williams said. “I would say, [don’t take] contested ones or others that aren’t good for the team, but others you should definitely be confident taking. You should never pass up an open three. That’s something in the league that’s rare to get in general, so you’d better take those when you can.”