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Celtics' Marcus Smart Won't Play vs. Pelicans Due to Knee Injury; Robert Williams Out

Doric SamJanuary 11, 2023

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics warms up prior to Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden on June 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been ruled out for Wednesday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a left knee contusion, the team announced prior to tipoff.

Robert Williams III has also been ruled out for left knee injury rehabilitation.

Smart suffered his knee injury in a 121-116 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 7. He also missed Monday's 107-99 win over the Chicago Bulls because of the ailment.

Through 36 games this season, Smart is averaging 11.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and 33.9 percent from deep.

Williams, meanwhile, didn't make his debut for Boston this season until Dec. 16 after undergoing surgery on his left knee during the offseason. The Celtics have been very careful in his rehab, giving him scheduled days off to rest his knee.

In 10 games, Williams is averaging 7.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks while shooting 82.9 percent from the floor.

Smart had the best year of his career during the 2021-22 season. He was named 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, only the sixth guard in NBA history to win the award and first since Gary Payton in 1996.

He also averaged 12.1 points and 5.9 assists in 71 regular-season games and set a career-high with 5.6 win shares, per Basketball Reference.

Williams also had a career year last season, averaging 10 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.2 blocks in 61 games while shooting 73.6 percent from the floor. He was named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team.

The Celtics are first in the Eastern Conference with a 29-12 record and are expected to contend for the NBA title this season after retaining their core and adding Malcolm Brogdon in a trade with the Indiana Pacers.

While Smart is out, Derrick White will be the team's primary ball-handler. Brogdon is likely to move into the starting lineup, and Payton Pritchard will also see more minutes off the bench.