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While the Boston Celtics still boast the best record in the NBA, they’ve stumbled a bit heading into Thursday’s meeting with the New York Knicks. The Celtics are fresh off a three-game road trip and look to end a two-game skid.

Boston has been short-handed lately, and if the injured Danilo Gallinari gets his wish, the Celtics could get a much-needed jolt when it counts the most.

The Boston Celtics look to get back on track Thursday

Danilo Gallinari of Italy looks on during the basketball International Friendly match between Italy and France at Unipol Arena on August 12, 2022, in Bologna, Italy. | Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images.

The Celtics have been far from full strength during their recent Florida swing. Veteran guard Marcus Smart missed both games against the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat because of an ankle injury. He’s expected to miss Thursday’s game with the Knicks.

Jaylen Brown (adductor tightness), Malcolm Brogdon (personal reasons), and Al Horford (rest) were all out for the Celtics, leaving them thin on the bench. Despite the glaring holes in the lineup, they nearly pulled out the win over the Heat, falling 98-95.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum has also been playing through hand/wrist injuries. With Smart out, Payton Pritchard and Derrick White have picked up some extra minutes, filling in admirably. Smart said he hopes to return in a week or two.

“The depth we do have is definitely going to help a lot to be able to give me that rest and time to heal,” Smart said, according to “So you’re thankful for that, but at the same time, as a player, you want to be out there.”

Gallinari hopes to return to action for the playoffs

The Celtics made two significant offseason moves to address their biggest problem last year — depth. They traded for Brogdon and then signed Gallinari. Both moves were expected to turn the Celtics into one of the deepest teams in the league.

Brogdon has been outstanding. He’s led the second unit all season and has provided that jolt off the bench. Gallinari, however, never got the chance to put on a Celtics uniform as he tore his ACL this summer while playing in Italy.

While it’s been expected he’ll be shelved for the season, he recently said he’s been motivated by the slim possibility he could return for the postseason.

“My mindset is that I want to play and that I’m going to play at the end of the season,” Gallinari told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “I want to play in the playoffs. So that’s the mindset that helps me every day get better and motivates me even more.

“My mindset is there is definitely a chance. So when I think about the season, it’s definitely not a lost season for me. So, we’ll see. That’s the mindset that helps me and pushes me to get better every day. If it happens, it’s going to be great. If it doesn’t, I’m looking forward to next season.”

Should Gallinari get his wish, the Celtics will be even more dangerous than they already are.