BOSTON — The Boston Celtics know who they will play in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Now, though, they have to wait to find out if a couple of injured Celtics will be ready when Boston’s postseason begins here against the Indiana Pacers next weekend.
Not only did the Celtics lose to the Orlando Magic at TD Garden on Sunday night 116-108, but Boston also lost guard Marcus Smart and forward Jayson Tatum to injuries. Smart sustained a left oblique strain, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, though coach Brad Stevens called it a bruise. Tatum has a left shin contusion.
Both players left the game early and didn’t return and were not in the locker room when reporters entered it postgame. Judging by Stevens’ postgame comments, neither — along with several other Celtics mainstays — will be playing in Boston’s season finale Tuesday in Washington.
“The point of tonight was to try to — because we won’t play [a playoff game] ’til Saturday, maybe Sunday — was to get a true game for some of our starters and our top seven or eight guys,” Stevens said. “But those guys will play a lot less on Tuesday, if at all.”
The much more immediate concern, however, was over the status of Smart and Tatum. Smart, in particular, looked concerning given the odd circumstances under which he got hurt. After chasing Evan Fournier down the lane, he bumped into Magic center Nikola Vucevic and crashed to the ground, holding his side.
Boston eventually called a timeout, and Smart limped to the bench — only to convince the training staff that he was all right and could stay in the game. But after the Celtics had the ball for one offensive possession — a possession on which Smart was clearly moving gingerly — Smart called for the bench to replace him as he limped back on defense before falling to the ground, holding his side.
“He felt like it was spasming on that second trip down the court,” Stevens said.
Smart would eventually get to his feet and hobble to the locker room with help from the trainers.
“We’ll see what that looks like tomorrow,” Stevens said. “He was a little sore but was walking around, which was good, in the locker room.”
Stevens said Tatum, on the other hand, had been dealing with the shin contusion even before Sunday’s game, but that he had gone through shootaround and pregame workouts without any issues.
That changed, however, once the game began, and Tatum exited for good after just six minutes.
“It was never told to me as it was something that would keep him from playing,” Stevens said. “He did the whole shootaround this morning, he got warmed up, he did his whole workout, and he felt great.
“[But] for whatever reason, when he jumped in the first quarter, he felt it.”