Pregame Post-Ups: Smart's Return Comes at Perfect Time
Monday, May 6 - Bucks at Celtics
Pregame – Smart's Return Comes at Perfect Time
BOSTON – Marcus Smart has been officially cleared to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Monday night, after missing the last four weeks due to a torn left oblique. His return couldn’t be coming at a much better time, as the Boston Celtics look to dig their way out of a 2-1 series deficit against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Smart had been gradually working his way back to full form over the last couple of weeks, and finally checked off his last box Sunday afternoon by participating in full contact, 3-on-3 action.
Being that it’s his first game back in nearly a month, Smart likely won’t see a lot of action according to C’s coach Brad Stevens.
“He’ll play short stints, maybe a couple a half, but obviously we’re monitoring how he feels, monitoring his wind,” Stevens said ahead of the 7 p.m. tip-off at TD Garden. “But he’ll be available to play short stints.”
Even if he doesn’t play much, Smart’s presence should still be felt. The fifth-year guard changes the way that the Celtics play thanks to his unmatched tenacity and the multitude of intangibles that he brings to the table.
“What I’m looking at is who he accentuates on our team,” said Stevens. “Obviously there will be matchups where we want him to come in and guard (Khris) Middleton some, those types of things. But it’s also about who we think he plays best with on our team and try to balance that out appropriately in his minutes.”
One player in particular who could benefit from Smart’s presence is Kyrie Irving. Smart’s abilities as a ball handler will give Irving more opportunities to play off the ball, which should alleviate some of the pressure off of the All-Star point guard.
“No question he’s excited to be back,” Stevens said of Smart. “People are excited to have him back, and that should give us a good lift.”
- Taylor Snow