The Boston Celtics are facing a crucial game Monday night against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. After stealing Game 1 on the road against Giannis Antetokounmpo and company in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics have dropped back-to-back games. Now, they need to win Game 4 in order to avoid Milwaukee having a chance to close out the series at home.
Fortunately, there may be additional firepower on the way in the form of guard Marcus Smart.
The Celtics were outscored 40-31 in the third quarter of Game 3 to fall 123-116 on their home floor, less than one week after defeating the Bucks by 22 on the road. They’ve played the entire postseason thus far without Smart, and we’re going to break down the latest on the guard’s status for Monday and the potential impact on Boston’s lineup outlook.
Marcus Smart Injury Update & Latest Status
UPDATE: As The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported, Smart has been cleared to play in Game 4.
While Smart has been sidelined since April 7 with a torn oblique, some big news came over the weekend on his potential return. As the Celtics revealed, Smart was cleared for full contact and played 3-on-3 while fully participating in practice. In turn, he and the team appear to be somewhat hopeful he can return for Game 4.
Smart was expected to miss four-to-six weeks, which would leave his return on pace with that timeline. Per the NBA’s official injury report on Sunday, he was listed as questionable, leaving a potential return on the table.
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There’s positive traction on Smart’s return, but Nicole Yang of Boston.com revealed that Smart was able to participate in practice on Sunday due to the fact that it was “real light.” She also points out that while Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the decision is up to Smart and the training staff on whether he plays, the guard said if he’s in any pain that he won’t go.
“If I’m in pain in any kind of way, then it’s definitely a no,” Smart said, per Boston.com.
Boston Celtics Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Bucks
*Notates expected starter
C: Al Horford*, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams
PF: Marcus Morris*, Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele
SF: Jayson Tatum*, Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye
SG: Jaylen Brown*, Marcus Smart, Jonathan Gibson
PG: Kyrie Irving*, Terry Rozier, Brad Wanamaker
It’s unknown what role Smart will play when he returns to the lineup, as he started 60 of the 80 games during the regular season. But Stevens did reveal that Smart will likely be used in short bursts of four-to-five minutes more than likely, per Nicole Yang and Boston.com.
“Whenever he becomes available, he’s a guy that can impact the game whether it’s for a couple minutes or a long time,” Stevens said. “We’ll certainly utilize him, and we’ll be happy when we get him back.”
Smart averaged 8.9 points, 4.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals over 27.5 minutes per game during the regular season. He shot a career-best mark from both the field (42.2 percent) and 3-point range (36.4 percent).