Mon, 04 Dec 2023

Without Marcus Smart, Grizzlies brace for surging Celtics

Field Level Media
19 Nov 2023, 23:25 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Celtics will look to extend their winning streak to a season-high six games on Sunday night when they visit the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Celtics will not play against Marcus Smart, however.

Smart, who spent nine seasons with Boston, injured his left ankle during the Grizzlies' 134-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Grizzlies announced Friday that Smart is expected to miss at least three weeks.

Smart, the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging 12.5 points per game this season. He is the Grizzlies' third-leading scorer.

Smart's injury could lead to an increased ball-handling role for leading scorer Desmond Bane, who has been used at both point guard and shooting guard this season.

"Things will probably be relatively similar for me," Bane told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I'll still be playing heavy minutes and doing everything I can to help us win. It's a great opportunity for so many guys on the roster to get good reps, continue to improve and ultimately try to win a spot and hopefully catapult themselves into something larger."

The Celtics sent Smart to Memphis as part of a three-team trade in June that brought Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. Smart's next opportunity to face the Celtics will be Feb. 4 in Boston.

"(Smart was) a big part of this culture," Celtics star Jayson Tatum said. "He was the most beloved Celtic that we had on our team. He was the heart and soul. To see him leave -- I thought I was going to play with Smart my entire career. So seeing him leave was tough."

Memphis got some good news when point guard Derrick Rose returned to action during Saturday night's 120-108 victory against San Antonio. Rose, who missed the previous seven games with a knee injury, played 14 minutes and finished the game with nine points, one rebound and one assist.

The Grizzlies trailed San Antonio 68-51 at halftime and 94-87 through three quarters before outscoring the Spurs 33-14 in the fourth. Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 27 points and Bane finished with 26.

It was only the third victory in 12 games for Memphis, which had a 56-38 advantage in points in the paint.

"We've been in holes before, and that's not acceptable," Jackson said. "We came out and got it done. ... A lot of people out, a lot of people have to step up - everybody knows that. When it turns over, it's gonna be scary, so keep on going."

The Celtics collected their fifth straight victory by beating the Toronto Raptors 108-105 Friday night. Boston squandered a 16-point halftime lead before receiving a tie-breaking 3-pointer from Derrick White with 26.8 seconds to play.

"What I like about (Friday's win) is we fought back," Porzingis said. "We stayed with it. We made some big shots also. At the end we won the game. I loved the character in (the victory). They had a bit more energy than us, but when we matched the energy the game started going in our favor."

Tatum is averaging a team-leading 27.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Jaylen Brown (22.9 ppg) and Porzingis (19.2) are Boston's other leading scorers.

The Grizzlies are 0-5 at home this season.

--Field Level Media

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