The Boston Celtics have finally started to play like the contender they hoped they’d be all season. They have won nine straight, including Tuesday’s 135-87 blowout win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Their overall momentum, though, took a serious hit on one unlucky play.
Starting guard Marcus Smart was driving at Joel Embiid in transition and got fouled by the MVP frontrunner. Smart immediately fell to the floor in extreme pain having seemingly injured his ankle. He struggled to put weight on the ankle from there.
Smart did manage to stay on the floor to shoot his free throws. That technically makes him eligible to return to the game later on if he is physically able, but staying in for the free throws, valiant as it is, isn’t always a sign of optimism. Kobe Bryant infamously remained in the game to take his two free throws after tearing his Achilles tendon in 2013.
Smart’s injury isn’t likely to be as serious as that one was, but at this stage, there is no telling just how badly he hurt himself on the fall. The Celtics, fortunately, traded for reinforcements at the deadline. Derrick White should be able to pick up some of the defensive slack if Smart is forced to miss an extended period. But Boston’s hopes of winning big in the postseason rely heavily on Smart, their best playmaker and a star defender. If nothing else, maintaining their winning streak without him is going to be a tall order.