Smart Plans to Push Minor Injuries Aside and Play Tonight

BOSTON – Marcus Smart has dealt with an abundance of health issues over the past week, enough of which would likely keep the average NBA player sidelined for at least a few games. Smart isn’t like the average NBA player when it comes to pushing through minor injuries and ailments, however, as he showed this morning during Celtics shootaround.

Not only did Boston’s banged-up ironman participate in shootaround, but he also did some extra contact work after the session was over. On top of that, he plans to play tonight against Denver, after missing only Wednesday night’s game because of various health troubles.

Smart was mostly healthy when he walked into Madison Square Garden for Sunday’s matinee matchup against the New York Knicks, but he emerged from the arena later that evening bruised and battered. First, he was elbowed in the eye while attempting a 3-point shot, which blurred his vision and temporarily knocked him out of the game. After returning, he took a hard shoulder to his left oblique – the same one that he tore late last season – which forced him out of the contest for good.

But that wasn’t all. Two days later, Smart developed a bad cold that brought on a high fever. The poor guy just couldn’t catch a break.

“New York literally killed me,” Smart said this morning with a shake of his head. “It was brutal.”

The combination of injuries and illness kept him out of Wednesday night’s game against the Miami Heat, but they most likely won’t sideline him for tonight’s game against the Nuggets. Smart told the media that he was feeling fine after going through some contact drills at shootaround, which was a great sign ahead of the marquee matchup.

“I do plan to play, but that’s up to these guys,” he said, nodding toward the team’s training staff. “We just got done doing a lot of contact to see if the oblique is fine. It held up well, really well. I’m proud of the results, they’re proud, so we’ll see what they say.”

On top of all of that, Smart has also been dealing with a lingering left hand injury, which he suffered over the summer while playing with Team USA. One benefit of missing the last few days is that he got to rest that hand, which he claims is “feeling good” at the moment.

Such a vast combination of health issues would keep most NBA players sidelined for a longer period of time than Smart anticipates for himself. His tolerance to play through injury and illness seems to be at a higher level than the norm. With being said, he’s not reckless with his pursuit of playing through injuries, as he said he will step away if he feels it’s necessary.

“My sign of willing and able to play is different than others,” he claimed. “But I know my body better than anybody, I’ve been through a lot. Just like anybody else will tell you – they know their body than a lot of people. And if anything is too critical for where I just knew I couldn’t go out there and wouldn’t be OK where I could do something worse, I wouldn’t play. But these are minor injuries and it’s part of the game. If you live your whole life worried about getting injured, that’s where injuries start to happen.”

Smart’s love for the game and desire to compete enables him to push any minor discomforts he’s feeling aside. He gets restless if he’s watching from the sideline or at home, which is exactly how he felt during his one-game absence.

“I miss playing,” Smart said. “I missed being out here with these guys, and obviously, like I said, if I felt I couldn’t go or couldn’t give everything I had, I wouldn’t play. But through all the tests we ran, everything’s feeling fine, I’m feeling fine. And if they give me the OK to go, then I’ll be able to go.”

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