This is definitely not the way the Boston Celtics wanted to start their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat.
That is to say, being without two starters for Game 1 of the series in South Beach Tuesday evening.
Hours before tip-off, the Boston Celtics announced that they’ll be without guard Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (Health and Safety Protocols) for the game.
This is absolutely huge news and could change the dynamics of the conference finals right from the start.
Impact of Boston Celtics being without Marcus Smart and Al Horford for Game 1
The Smart news is especially concerning given that he just recently earned NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for his stellar performace on that end of the court.
Boston was going to rely on him as part of a package to defend Heat star Jimmy Butler. That’s no longer going to be the case.
- Marcus Smart stats (2022 NBA Playoffs): 15.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.2 APG
As you can see, Smart has provided a nice punch on the offensive end of the court for the Celtics, too. Given Butler’s dominance in the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs, this is no small thing.
As for Horford, he’s taken on a huge role with Robert Williams’ continued injury issues. The former All-Star has been absolutely brilliant for the Boston Celtics in the playoffs — averaging 13.0 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists on 45% shooting from distance.
In what was a series-changing Game 4 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, he went off for 30 points while hitting on 11-of-14 shots.
It’s now time for others to step up for the Boston Celtics if they want to steal Game 1 in Miami.