CHICAGO — While the Celtics were relieved that Marcus Smart has been diagnosed with nothing more than a left ankle sprain and a bone bruise, coach Brad Stevens warned Saturday that the 2-3-week prognosis for recovery is “hopeful.”
Stevens said Smart has a high ankle sprain, which usually takes longer to heal than a normal sprain. The injury looked frightening Friday night when the rookie rolled the ankle driving between Indiana defenders in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 101-98 win.
Smart was removed from the court on a stretcher and underwent X-rays and an MRI Friday night.
Stevens said he was informed on the court it was likely just a sprain.
“We didn’t know for sure and certainly the pain that he was in made us second-guess it,” Stevens said before the Celtics’ 106-101 win over the Bulls on Saturday. “But he feels better [Saturday]. I was texting with him earlier.
“It’s going to take a couple of weeks, like we said, to get back, and that’s hopeful because those high ankle sprains can be much more difficult than that.
“He’s fine. He’s in a little bit of pain, some discomfort from the typical ankle sprain, but he was in good spirits as far as the text messaging went. We’ve got nothing but positive reports.”
Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo missed Saturday night’s game after undergoing a procedure to remove a screw from his surgically repaired left hand.
Rondo did not dress with his teammates in preparation for the flight to Chicago following Friday night’s game and informed the team afterward he planned to have the procedure.
Rondo is expected back for Wednesday’s game against the Thunder.
Stevens said he did not find out about Rondo’s procedure until after Friday night’s win.
“I think Doc [team doctor Brian McKeon] either saw him or talked to him [Friday] and sensed that he needed to have the screw removed,” Stevens said.
“It’s a real minor procedure. From everything I’ve gathered, it’s a matter of letting the stitching heal and he’s back at practice Tuesday.”
With Smart and Rondo out, Stevens opted for veteran Evan Turner to start at point guard. Turner has made some sparkling plays while handling the ball but also some risky passes that have led to turnovers.
Turner had 19 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes against the Bulls.
Phil Pressey, who played his most significant minutes of the season Friday night and helped spark a fourth-quarter rally, came off the bench.
Pressey, who had a tough night shooting (0 for 1 on 2-pointers; 1 for 6 on 3-pointers), had 3 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in 16 minutes.
Stevens was pleased with Pressey’s production despite being left out of the initial rotation.
Stevens held Rondo out of the first 9:10 of the fourth quarter Friday night, but the coach said that had nothing to do with an injury and everything to do with how Pressey was running the offense.
“We were rolling,” Stevens said. “Rondo and I had a real discussion about do we just let Phil go. And Rondo was great. Rondo recognized that Phil had ignited us and had a lot of juice and a lot of energy, but that energy was waning toward the end. The reason we won the game was because the depth of our roster.
“I felt like we were waning in pace and we needed a jolt. He gives you that jolt. Sometimes he makes mistakes, but that’s OK. He creates a tempo for the game.”
Rose sits out
The Bulls were without Derrick Rose Saturday night, though coach Tom Thibodeau refused to disclose the reason. However, the former All-Star guard did sprain both ankles in an Oct. 31 loss to the Cavaliers.
Because of various injuries to both players, the last time Rondo and Rose faced off was Jan. 13, 2012, an 88-79 Bulls victory at Boston.
“He’s just out,” Thibodeau said. “He’s not ready to go yet. We’ll see what happens [Sunday]. We feel good about the other guys. Just let him go through his process. Injuries are part of the game and if a guy’s not comfortable going, he’s not going to go.”