Smart Discusses Injury, Fire To Return

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart isn’t unlike the rest of us. Nearly a week removed from being carted off of the TD Garden court with a severe ankle sprain, this year’s No. 6 overall pick continues to feel the same emotion as Celtics Nation: relief.

“It’s a blessing,” Smart said on Thursday during his first media appearance since suffering the injury. “I just thank God it wasn’t a lot worse than what it could’ve been.”

It sure looked a lot worse than a sprain when Smart went down early on in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s game against Indiana. The rookie, who is as tough as nails, felt excruciating pain that led he and team doctors to fear the worst.

“I felt like my foot was on fire,” Smart explained. “Looking back at the video and listening to what they had to say, they thought I broke it for a moment. I did too.”

The rookie has come a long way since he tumbled to the court during a fast break layup attempt. He's been able to walk on his left foot for at least three days and is slowly working his way back to normalcy.

“They’re working me out of the (walking) boot,” he said. “Today I was actually able to ride the bike without the boot taped up, so that’s some progress there. I don’t know if they’re going to put me back in, but as of right now they said I’m out of the boot.”

Smart’s progression can be attributed to his work ethic. As was noted by Brad Stevens on the night of the injury, Smart works as hard as anybody when it comes to improving his game on the court. No one expected anything less when it came to his rehabilitation.

“I’ve been here early in the morning before practice, during practice, after practice and come back later that night… I’ve kind of been doing that here and there,” Smart said. “Usually two a day, but I have some times where I’ve been back three times a day.”

Amidst all of that treatment off the court, Smart is still sneaking in some time on the court. No, he’s not shooting around, but he is doing everything he can to stay up to speed ahead of his eventual return.

“I’m actually on the sideline right here watching these guys, still engaged in practice, talking to them, asking questions, trying to make sure that I don’t get out of the loop,” the rookie explained. “That’s kind of what I’ve been trying to stay focused on, and make sure that I’m out here still being a part of the team even though I’m out.”

Smart noted that the most difficult aspect of his rehabilitation is the monotonous daily treatments. He also expects to be challenged by the urge to return to the court too quickly, a la Avery Bradley a season ago.

"It’s been eating me alive," he said, "especially because I love to play basketball and it’s been taken away from me right now.

“Trying not to rush to get yourself back out there (is difficult), because the day you’re feeling good and you think you can go… you don’t want to do too much to aggravate it a little bit more and try to come back a little bit earlier than you should.”

No one should expect that to happen in this instance, according to Smart.

“Even though I’m going to feel better before I really am,” said Smart, “I’m just trying to make sure that I am 100 percent before I step on the court again.”

That should take place at some point in the next couple of weeks. Until then, Smart will continue to rehab day and night, all while breathing many sighs of relief.