Smart Says Game 3 Return is ‘Strong Likelihood’

BOSTON – After missing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a right quad contusion, Marcus Smart is trending in the right direction to return to the court for Game 3 in Milwaukee.

“A strong likelihood I should be back,” he said following Thursday afternoon’s practice in Brighton.

Smart took multiple hits to his lower quad/knee region during Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Bucks, which left him in excruciating pain over the next few days. But the discomfort wasn’t the only issue that kept him sidelined during his team’s 109-86 win Tuesday night; the main problem is that the swelling caused by the injury has greatly restricted his range of motion.

Fortunately for him, the swelling has been reducing and he’s been able to do a little more each day since the injury. And while he’s not back to 100 percent just yet, he's optimistic that he should be pretty close by the time his five-day rest period is up.

“Where the majority of it is and what’s keeping me back, it's because of that fluid in the knee that’s restricting my movement to really bend down as much as I need to, especially to be able to get into a defensive stance and to be able to push off,” said Smart. “It’s kind of hard to be able to go out there and play if you can’t do that, so once we can get the fluid off of it, everything else will be all right.”

Even more agonizing than the physical pain was the mental torment Smart went through by missing Game 2. He knew how big of a game that was, after going down 1-0, and his competitive spirit was eating him up inside as he watched from the sideline.

“I was very, very antsy that whole day,” Smart recalled. “Couldn't sleep, couldn't even take a nap. Just wishing I was out there with my guys. It's really tough, and my guys know, anybody who knows me understands that if I'm gonna miss a game, especially a playoff game, something's really got to be wrong with me. So it was really tough from that aspect.”

However, the agony began to wear off as soon as his team got off to an 18-3 lead over the Bucks, which set the tone for a wire-to-wire victory at TD Garden. Smart couldn’t have been more proud of the way the C's stepped up, especially on the defensive end where they were missing their most important piece.

“I loved it,” he said of his team’s response. “I mean, it was expected. We came out flat the first game and give all credit to the Bucks, they did what they were supposed to do, and us going on home court we couldn't go down 0-2. So it was expected for us to come out the way. I'm just proud of the way the guys responded, and I'm glad that everybody had a helping hand in that and stepped up.”

Smart hopes to take the final step up in his recovery over the next couple of days by continuing treatment and keeping his swelling down. He’ll have no issue playing through the pain, but making sure the extra fluid is gone around his knee is crucial before he gets back on the court for a game.

“We’re just dealing with the last part of it, and that’s getting that restriction off the knee and the joint,” Smart said. “So I feel once that goes away, I should be back to myself because everything else is healing up the right way.”


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