Sunday, December 27 - Knicks vs. Celtics
Pregame - Smart Set to Return to Lineup vs. Knicks
BOSTON – Celtics guard Marcus Smart has not seen game action since Nov. 20 when he suffered a subluxation of the proximal tibiofibular joint in his left knee against the Brooklyn Nets.
Expect his absence to end tonight when the C’s hit the TD Garden court to host the New York Knicks.
Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said during tonight’s pregame press conference that Smart will be available off the bench when Boston tips off against the Knicks at 7 p.m. However, he expects that it may take time for the sophomore guard to return to tip-top shape because of his lack of play over the last month.
“There’s nothing like basketball shape as far as running up and down the court, as far as playing to get into it,” Stevens said before tip-off. “It hasn’t been easy early on to do what [Smart] needs to do because he wasn’t able to be on his feet very much. But in the last couple of weeks he’s been progressively doing more and more and more and culminating in every drill that we’ve done, plus some 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 in the last few days.”
He has not, however, played 5-on-5 basketball for more than a month, so he will be playing limited minutes for now. But those limitations do not lower Stevens’ expectations for Smart in the meantime.
“He’s gonna have to impact the team the best way he can by defending and being tough and by being an energy player for the time being,” said Stevens.
Since the injury took place, Smart’s teammates have done an excellent job filling his defensive void, so he will not be overloaded with pressure when he makes his return.
“[The rest of the guys] have done a great job holding the fort down and defending, especially while he was out,” said Stevens,” which is very encouraging because he’s clearly one of our better defenders.”
The C’s will look to continue to hold down that fort tonight when Smart makes his much-anticipated return to action.
- Taylor C. Snow