The banged-up Boston Celtics limp into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat with Marcus Smart (ankle), Jayson Tatum (neck), and Robert Williams III (knee) hoping to play despite getting hit with the injury bug.
The Celtics are down 2-1 against the Heat with this series following a zig-zag pattern. The Heat won Game 1, but the Celtics evened the series with a huge win in Game 2 before failing to beat the Heat in Game 3. The Heat blew a 26-point lead when they lost Jimmy Butler in the second half with knee inflammation, but the Celtics saw their fourth-quarter comeback fall short even without Butler in the lineup.
The Celtics are -7 favorites in Game 4 at home at TD Garden. Scott Foster, the universally loathed official and so-called NBA henchman, is the crew chief for Game 4, which bodes well for the Celtics. Teams trailing in a series are 21-5 in playing games officiated by Foster, which sounds great if you’re a Celtics fan.
The Heat and Celtics are both -110 odds to win the series, according to DraftKings, even though the Celtics trail the Heat 2-1. The Celtics are +310 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship as the second-highest team on the NBA futures board. The Heat are +360 odds to win the title.
Game 4 Status: Smart, Tatum, RW 3
Smart is so dinged-up, he has too many ailments to keep track of, including an ankle injury. Smart missed a game last series against the Milwaukee Bucks with a calf injury that initially happened during the regular season. He missed Game 1 of the Heat series with a foot sprain after he collided with Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo.
Right now, Smart is nursing a right ankle injury that occurred during a collison and fall in the third quarter of Game 3.
“Took a pretty bad sprain,” said head coach Ime Udoka. “Obviously, finished the game, but he’s gonna feel it a little bit more. He’s getting worked on, getting treatment.”
The sprained ankle could prevent Smart from suiting up for Game 4. He’ll be a game-time decision.
Robert Williams played the first two games of the Heat series, but missed Game 3 with knee soreness. He missed the last four games of the East semis against the Bucks. Williams, like Smart, is listed as questionable for Game 4.
Tatum went down in the fourth quarter of Game 3 with a right cervical nerve impingement injury after he ran into Victor Oladipo.
“My neck got caught in a weird position,” said Tatum. “Went down and felt some pain and discomfort in my neck and down my arm, and then went to the back, got it checked on, and started to gain some feeling back and got it checked by the doctors. “
Tatum finished out the closing minutes of Game 3, but he’s listed as probable for Game 4 and expected to start.
Update: Smart Out
Smart will not play in Game 4 due to the sprained ankle. Derrick White will start at point guard instead for the Celtics.
Tatum and Williams are both slated to start in Game 4.
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