Smart (nerve issue) among three Celtics questionable vs. Raptors


The Boston Celtics may be without multiple starters again Wednesday night at TD Garden.

The Celtics have ruled out Al Horford (low back stiffness) for their game against the Toronto Raptors, while Jayson Tatum (left hip contusion), Marcus Smart (left-side neck spasm) and Payton Pritchard (left heel pain) are all questionable.

Horford has sat out the second night of back-to-backs all season, so his absence is standard protocol. Boston also will have Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams available after both starters missed Tuesday's loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia, and we wouldn't be surprised if Tatum gets a night off ahead of the postseason.

Smart's appearance on the injury report is new, however, and it sounds like he's dealing with a real issue: The C's guard revealed he played Tuesday's game with a pinched nerve.

"Can barely turn my head to the left and it’s just stinging," Smart said, via Mass Live's Souichi Terada. "My lower left arm is going numb here and there, so just trying to play through it and be out there for my team. But it definitely hurts, so we’ll figure out what’s going on."

The ailment didn't seem to hinder Smart on Tuesday -- he tallied 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes of court time -- but he also doesn't want to exacerbate it over Boston's final three regular season games.

"I would not like to sit, but I’m not going to push it if this neck is giving me some serious problems like it was (Tuesday night) to where every time down the court, I’m grabbing it," Smart said. "Then I’ll probably sit out and give it some time."

The Celtics need just one more win or one more Philly loss to clinch the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, so the stakes aren't too high Wednesday night. While head coach Joe Mazzulla wants to win every game, health should be Boston's top priority entering the postseason.

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