Thursday night’s marquee matchup between the Celtics and Nets will be missing a couple of big names.
Brooklyn star Kevin Durant will remain out as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury, and new addition Blake Griffin will sit because he is still ramping up after being sidelined by the Pistons for an extended period. Celtics guard Marcus Smart, meanwhile, is on track to play for the first time since late January and give Boston a much-needed boost on both ends of the floor.
Here’s the latest news on Durant, Griffin and Smart ahead of Celtics vs. Nets.
Kevin Durant injury update
During his Wednesday media availability, Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters that Durant is “getting better all the time.” The two-time NBA Finals MVP is scheduled to have more imaging done on his left hamstring next week, and the results of those scans will give Brooklyn a better idea of how quickly Durant can rejoin the starting lineup.
“We were expecting the potential for this to be a month or whatever it may be,” Nash said. “So, who knows? Who knows what the scan says? Who knows where this takes us and how soon he’s back? I think when we got the second scan [we knew] this is probably what we were looking at.”
Durant has been doing shooting drills and rhythm work, per Nash, but he has not yet participated in a full-court scrimmage. When asked whether there was any possibility that Durant’s hamstring strain could be linked to the Achilles injury that sidelined him for the entirety of the 2019-20 season, Nash said the team doesn’t believe the two “are related at all.”
“He’s doing very well right now, and we all feel really positive about the direction he’s going,” Nash said. “But we just need to be very cautious because he’s a really important player for us.”
Blake Griffin injury update
Griffin, who recently signed with the Nets after reaching a buyout agreement with the Pistons, is listed on Brooklyn’s injury report, but he shut down any concerns about his health. He is simply getting back into game shape after a long layoff, and he plans to discuss his potential debut date with the Nets’ performance staff.
“I’m not injured at all,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I haven’t played in three weeks, so I think it’s smart to sort of ramp me up — or, actually, almost four weeks now. There’s no injury.”
The six-time All-Star last played on Feb. 12 before Griffin and the Pistons decided that it would be best for the six-time All-Star to sit out as Detroit considered possible trades or the terms of a buyout. Now Griffin is focused on chasing a championship alongside the “Big Three” of Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
“There is a learning curve, for sure, but I kind of keep saying it. Basketball is basketball at the end of the day,” Griffin said. “I’m pretty familiar with these guys, and like I said, they make the game easier for us. There will be that learning curve, but I’m just excited to be on the court with them and figure it out.
“We have two months before the playoffs start, and I think that’s plenty of time.”
Marcus Smart injury update
The Celtics should have Smart back on the floor when they kick off the second half of the regular season. The 27-year-old guard missed Boston’s past 18 games after suffering a calf injury on Jan. 30.
“Today was my first day to really get out there and play 5-on-5 and [get] contact and really press it to the limit to see,” Smart said Wednesday. “It felt really good. … They cleared me and said if today went well, I’m probably, most likely going to play tomorrow unless something changes. But as of right now, I will be playing the game tomorrow.”
Boston coach Brad Stevens noted that Smart will be on a minutes restriction when he returns.
Celtics vs. Nets injury report
(Current as of 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday)
|Celtics||Romeo Langford||Out||Health and safety protocols|
|Nets||Spencer Dinwiddie||Out||Right knee; partially torn ACL|
|Nets||Kevin Durant||Out||Left hamstring; strain|
|Nets||Jeff Green||Available||Right shoulder; contusion|
|Nets||Blake Griffin||Out||Left knee; injury management|
|Nets||Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot||Out||Right knee; soreness|