ORLANDO — The Celtics were without three of their top six rotation players for Monday’s road game against the Magic, with guard Marcus Smart (ankle), center Robert Williams (knee management), and guard Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons) all sidelined.
Smart needed to be helped off the court by two members of the training staff Saturday after spraining his right ankle late in the second quarter of Boston’s win over the Raptors. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t have a detailed update on his progress Monday and said he was unsure if Smart would play Tuesday against the Heat.
“Just kind of taking it day to day and seeing how he feels,” Mazzulla said. “You know how he is. He’s always working to make sure he can come back, and when he can, he will. So he’s just working at it every day.”
Mazzulla said it was also unclear whether Brogdon would be back to face Miami. Williams has not played in games on back-to-back nights since returning from offseason knee surgery in December.
Jayson Tatum, meanwhile, returned Monday after missing the Toronto game with left wrist soreness. He said Monday morning that playing 48 minutes Thursday against the Warriors and having a couple of hard falls in that game affected the decision, but acknowledged that the team is mostly just trying to keep the wrist fresh over the course of this long season.
“I think the extra day off helped me out a lot,” he said.
Tatum said there is a chance he could have surgery on the wrist at season’s end, but he does not anticipate it causing problems over the course of this year.
Waiting for polls to close
Fan voting for NBA All-Star starters and the two team captains will be revealed Thursday night. In the latest returns, Tatum held the third and final starting frontcourt slot and Jaylen Brown had the third-most votes among backcourt players, one spot outside of a starting role.
The players and a panel of media members will each account for one quarter of the total vote.
“It’s a lot of guys that have been playing extremely well, a lot of guys that are deserving to start,” Tatum said. “So the media and myself have got some tough decisions. But ultimately the guys that are supposed to be an All-Star are going to be there regardless of if you’re starting or not, so it’s cool to have some fun with it.”
Tatum will likely end up getting the third starting spot behind the Nets’ Kevin Durant and the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Brown will need some assistance from the players and media members, though, to get past the Nets’ Kyrie Irving or the Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell. Still, Tatum was confident in his teammate’s chances.
“I’m sure the media and the players will vote him as a starter,” Tatum said, “so hopefully we both can start and hopefully we can get Smart in there if we keep winning. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Not a total loss
Mazzulla has said the Celtics’ frustrating moments this season will have value down the line, too.
On Dec. 16 and 18, Boston lost at home to the likely lottery-bound Magic. That was part of a stretch in which the Celtics dropped five of six games. Mazzulla said that prior to that point, the team had relied on its scorching 3-point shooting to win games.
In these two losses, the Celtics were just 23 for 93 from the 3-point line.
“I think during that time we were learning how to win games when things weren’t going our way, whether that was controlling the glass on the offensive end, forcing more turnovers,” Mazzulla said. “I think since that game we’ve done a really good job of finding ways to win, whether offense, defense, forcing turnovers, crashing the glass, making the shots, and doing little stuff like that.”