The Boston Celtics have gotten a major boost on the injury front heading into their final game before the All-Star break. Marcus Smart, who has missed the last 11 games due to an ankle sprain, will make his return on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons, while Jayson Tatum is back after a one-game absence due to illness and Derrick White is probable despite needing to see an ear specialist.
Just 24 hours earlier, the health situation was much more grim. The Celtics rolled into Milwaukee on Tuesday night without Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford. Robert Williams III was limited to 13 minutes due to a nagging ankle issue. They nearly pulled off an upset anyway, but eventually fell to the Bucks in overtime, 131-125.
In the aftermath, we learned that White stayed behind in order to see an ear specialist due to trouble hearing out of his left ear. Early in the second quarter, White tried to sneak between Grayson Allen and Jevon Carter to get to the basket, but he lost control of the ball after Allen grabbed his arm. There was no foul called on the play and White recovered to force a jump ball, but he took a shot to the side of the head in the process. The contact didn't seem to be too severe, but White immediately clutched at his ear and seemed to be in discomfort. However, he remained in the game and went on to play a season-high in minutes.
Derrick White's ear injury pic.twitter.com/1xcmUKvrW4— Bllen Production (@YT_Bllen) February 15, 2023
The initial expectation was that White would miss Wednesday's game as a result, but it appears as though he'll be ready to go. That's a great sign for the Celtics, who did not need to add another key player to the injury report, and had already suffered one freak head injury this month.
During the team's win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Feb. 8, Jayson Tatum accidentally elbowed Jaylen Brown in the face while they were both chasing a rebound. Brown suffered a facial fracture and has not played since. While he does not need surgery, his exact return-to-play timeline is still unclear and he will not suit up again until after the All-Star break.
After their game against the Pistons on Wednesday, the Celtics will have a full eight days off until they play again on Feb. 23 vs. the Indiana Pacers. By that point they could be nearing full strength, which would be just the boost they need for the stretch run as they try to hold on to the No. 1 overall seed.