Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been suspended for one game for directing threatening language at an official, the NBA announced Wednesday. The incident occurred during the Celtics' loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday, a frustrating turn of events for Boston as the Thunder had lost 14 games in a row prior to facing Boston. Smart served the suspension on Wednesday when the Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 120-111.
Boston cannot afford to be without any of their best players even for a single game. At 33-30, they are currently tied for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with the Miami Heat. Staying in the top six is more important than ever this season due to the league's new play-in rules. If Boston falls to No. 7, it would have to beat the No. 8 seeded team, currently the Hornets, or the No. 9 or No. 10 seed in a second play-in game, just to make it into the playoffs.
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Smart is averaging a career-high 13.6 points per game as he has had to take on a greater offensive role with Gordon Hayward departing in free agency and Kemba Walker beginning to show signs of aging. He has already missed 21 games due to a calf injury suffered early in the season, though, and Boston has paid the price in the standings. Despite Walker also out Wednesday due to injury, the Celtics prevailed even at a major disadvantage against the Hornets.