Marcus Smart said Thursday that he is likely to return to the Boston Celtics‘ lineup on Saturday. The 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year missed Boston’s 109-86 victory in Game 2 of its second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday because of a quad contusion.
“Strong likelihood that I should be back for Game 3,” Smart said.
Smart said that “some of the swelling has gone down,” but he is “still dealing with some.” He said that the shoulder stinger he suffered in Game 1 is not an issue.
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“It’s just the quad, the fluid,” Smart said. He took a hit “closer to the knee area in the quad, so a lot of the fluid went to the knee.”
Smart has spent the past few days doing “treatment and exercises to do to help strengthen the quad and get the blood flowing and things like that,” he said. On Thursday, he tested it out at the Celtics’ practice facility.
“Felt OK,” Smart said. “A little sore still. Like I said, I still have some fluid, so it’s still restricting my movement a little bit. And we just go from there. They’re doing everything they can and I’m doing everything on my part on my end to get back on the court.”
In January, Smart missed six games because of a quad injury.
“It’s literally the exact same one in the exact same spot,” he said. “It’s just re-aggravating the same injury that I’ve been dealing with. And as we all know, injuries like that, they kind of linger.”
Boston coach Ime Udoka said that the team will know more about Smart’s status on Friday, based on how his body reacts to the work he did on Thursday.
“Obviously he looks better today than he did just moving around, walking around the last few days when he couldn’t go,” Udoka said.
In Game 2, the Celtics started Derrick White in Smart’s place, increased Payton Pritchard’s minutes and went with a seven-man rotation. Smart said he “loved” how the team responded after losing the series opener, praising the “phenomenal” and “awesome” job that Al Horford and Grant Williams did against Giannis Antetokounmpo defensively.
It was “very difficult,” he said, to watch from the sideline. “I was very antsy that whole day. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t even take a nap.” Smart said that he is doing everything that he can to be ready to play, but he has to listen to his body. “Anybody who knows me understands that if I’m going to miss a game, especially a playoff game, something’s really gotta be wrong with me.”
With Smart standing at the back of the interview room, Udoka joked, “We don’t even really need Marcus, honestly.” Then Udoka credited the Defensive Player of the Year for “the impact he has on us in setting the tone on a night-to-night basis.” Udoka added that the Celtics have confidence in White and Pritchard.
Smart sounded optimistic about being able to play the way he always does when he returns.
“If I’m out there, I should be able to do the things that I was doing, or I shouldn’t be out there,” Smart said. “So when I come back, I’m coming back to be me. And that’s all I can really say about that. And if I’m not out there, it’s because I didn’t feel like I was 100 percent to be out there to do the things that I’m supposed to be doing.”
Smart said that he and the training staff are dealing with “the last part” of his quad issue. He thinks he will “be back to myself” once he is able to bend his knee, get into a defensive stance and explode off of his right leg normally.
“It’s kind of hard to go out there and play if you can’t do that,” Smart said. “Once we can get that fluid up off of it, everything else will be all right.”