The dust from Sunday’s Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks has settled, and now the Celtics turn their attention to their Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Miami Heat. One of the first questions on the table is what the starting lineup will look like for Game 1 on Tuesday. The Celtics have two starters dealing with injuries, in point guard Marcus Smart and center Robert Williams.
Smart played the entirety of Sunday’s win, but hit the floor hard on a number of occasions and appeared to be slightly limping late in the second half. Smart was reportedly seen wearing a walking boot leaving TD Garden on Sunday.
During his media availability on Monday, head coach Ime Udoka told reporters Smart suffered a midfoot sprain during Game 7, and that he’ll be questionable for Game 1. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski later added on Twitter that the 2022 NBA Defensive player of the Year underwent an MRI on Monday which “returned clean.”
Smart has dealt with a number of injuries during this year’s playoffs. He missed Game 2 of the Bucks series with a right quad contusion, and suffered a shoulder stinger on a fall earlier in the series as well.
In the six games he played against the Bucks, Smart scored 14 points per game while shooting 41.2 percent from the floor and 39.4 percent from three. He also averaged 5.7 assists per game. In Game 7, he nearly picked up a triple-double finishing with 11 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds.
While Smart’s status remains up in the air, Williams seems to have turned a corner. Williams missed the final four games of the semifinal series due to knee soreness – he was inactive for Games 4, 5, and 6 before dressing but not playing in Game 7. According to Udoka, Williams will be available for Game 1 without a minutes restriction.
Williams is the Celtics’ strongest interior defensive presence when on the floor. He’s played just five games in this playoffs, missing four in the semifinals as well as the first two of the first-round series against the Nets as he recovered from a torn meniscus suffered late in the regular season. In those five games this postseason, Williams is averaging 6.2 points and 4.8 rebounds with 1.8 blocks per game in 20.1 minutes per game.
On Miami’s side, point guard Kyle Lowry is still working through a hamstring injury that has held him out of six games in this postseason including the last two the Heat played against the 76ers. According to the Miami Herald, his status for Game 1 is “very much in doubt” after he missed the team’s practice on Sunday.