After grabbing the inaugural game of their second-round series matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics have dropped two straight games and now find themselves in a 2-1 hole.
Their defense has been suspect, allowing 123 points in each of the last two meetings, but it could be getting a boost soon. Marcus Smart, who has been sidelined since tearing his left oblique in April, could be ready to make his return to the court soon.
“I think I’m getting really close,” Smart told MassLive’s Tom Westerholm on Sunday. “By tomorrow, it’s still up for grabs. Like I said, I have to see how I’m feeling tomorrow morning when I wake up. Hopefully everything feels fine. As we know, injuries can be a little tricky. Sometimes you can have setbacks but hopefully that’s not the case. And hopefully they can clear me for tomorrow.”
“It’s been brutal for me, I’m not going to lie,” Smart said. “Especially when you go back in that locker room, especially after a game like Friday where guys are exhausted and you can see it on their faces and everything and they weren’t pleased with the outcome. You’ve got to sit there and look and coach is talking about the things you did wrong, and you’re not included in that. It’s just a bad feeling. Hopefully that can change. But we’ll see.”
The timetable for Marcus Smart was originally expected to range from 4 to 6 weeks. If Smart were to return tomorrow, it would’ve been just a couple days over four weeks since he was diagnosed with the torn oblique, but Boston’s season is on the line and Smart is an integral piece of what they do.
Head coach Brad Stevens says if Smart were to play, it would be on a limited basis and he would only be inserted into the game for brief stints. “He’ll probably be limited because he hasn’t done anything for four or five weeks, as far as really going up and down and that kind of environment,” Stevens said. “Probably looking more, shorter, four or five minute stints. Those kinds of things.”
One of the leaders of this Celtics team, getting Marcus Smart back would rejuvenate a squad looking for any advantage right now. Smart would bring that relentless edge back to the C’s and could help make them a much deeper playoff push than they would be able to without him.