By Brian Robb, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics will face at least one more challenging test this week without their All-Star point guard.
Brad Stevens told reporters Tuesday in San Antonio that Isaiah Thomas will miss his fourth straight game on Wednesday night against the Spurs due to a groin injury. The Celtics have gone 1-2 without the 5-foot-9 guard since he suffered the groin ailment in the final moments of a loss to the Houston Rockets back on Dec. 5.
Thomas was optimistic about rejoining his teammates during the team's current road trip after receiving a plasma injection last Wednesday, but Stevens indicated to reporters on Tuesday that the return timetable has been pushed back.
"I want to play but they keep telling me no," Thomas said last Friday. "They keep wanting to be very patient with this because they don't want to re-injure it. It's an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. So I don't want that. And on top of that it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have."
Thomas has also been battling a sprained finger that has hampered his shooting ability in recent weeks.
"It's all right," he said of the finger. "I can only bend it right there, but that's the least of my worries. I'm just trying to get back to playing and get this groin right."
The head coach is hopeful that Thomas will be able to suit up when the Charlotte Hornets come to the TD Garden Friday night.
Without Thomas in the fold, the pressure will once again be on reserve point guard Marcus Smart to help steady a Celtics' offense that floundered without their leading scorer recently. Boston overwhelmed a tired Magic squad on the road last Wednesday night, but struggled against both Toronto and Oklahoma City over the weekend, shooting an ugly 41 percent from the field and posting just 95 points per game in those defeats.
Smart has actually done a solid job distributing the ball with Thomas sidelined (averaging 5.7 assists per game), but key contributors on Boston's bench have failed to pick up the slack to make up for Thomas' 26 points per game. Kelly Olynyk (33 percent shooting) and Terry Rozier (18 percent shooting from 3-point range) have been the main culprits on that front during the past week.
With a Top 5 opponent looming on the road Wednesday night, the Celtics will need a well-rounded effort from everyone to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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