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Celtics’ Marcus Smart unlikely to return from injury before All-Star break

Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Celtics injury

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart is unlikely to return to the court before the All-Star break due to a lingering left calf strain, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting.

The Celtics guard sustained the injury in a match against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 30. While he had recently begun traveling with the team again in the hope that his rehabilitation would soon come to an end, the news that the training staff will continue to sideline Smart ensures that Boston will face at least another seven games without their defensive fulcrum before the break on March 5.

Though Smart was originally only expected to miss between 2-3 weeks when he first endured the calf strain, his prolonged absence means that rookies Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith will continue to see minutes in the backcourt. While Pritchard, in particular, has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise for Boston on the offensive side of the court, his inability to stop guards from penetrating the interior has been a continued reason for the Celtics’ struggles on defense.

Having entered the season with the expectation that they would compete for an appearance in the NBA Finals, Boston’s 15-14 record entering their Sunday matinee game against the New Orleans Pelicans—and 5-6 mark since losing Smart—has been a significant cause for concern for Boston. With the team already expected to pursue help in the trade market before Smart sustained his injury, the news that he will continue to be out for several more weeks is certain to increase the urgency of those discussions.

In a season that has gone anything but according to plan, the hits keep coming for the Boston Celtics.