Point guard Marcus Smart remains questionable hours before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals and the Boston Celtics expect the decision on his availability just before tipoff in Miami on Tuesday night.
The Heat are relatively healthy but are again without point guard Kyle Lowry because of a hamstring injury.
Smart, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, continues to experience soreness in his right foot.
“The swelling is there, the soreness is there,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after Tuesday’s shootaround. “We’ll monitor him, how he reacts to treatment today. Long day, he has an extra hour (before tipoff) or two. He tested it out a little bit here. We’ll see how it goes. It’s very sore. Legitimately questionable.”
An MRI exam on Monday detected a right midfoot sprain. Smart was injured Sunday in the Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
“He took a pretty bad fall, got bent up,” Udoka said. “It’s pretty tender and sore right now. We’ll get him round-the-clock treatment.”
Smart is averaging 15.0 points and 6.2 assists per game in 10 postseason games, besting his average of 12.1 points and 5.9 assists during the regular season.
He might be most important in helping the Celtics contain Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler. Butler enters the series as the player with the most playoff experience on the Miami roster (90 games).
Butler said he expected to be a focal point of Boston’s defense, but spared any care for the topic of how he’ll be defended.
“I really don’t care, honestly,” he said.
Butler averaged 22 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in two regular-season games against Boston this season.
–Field Level Media