Marcus Smart Resumes On-Court Work, Could Return By End Of December

The Boston Celtics have been without Marcus Smart for nearly a month. But according to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, they could have their point guard back to ring in the new year.

Ainge provided a positive update on Smart during his weekly call to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” on Thursday.

“Marcus had a really good day (Wednesday),” Ainge said, via ESPN.com. “He got out on the court for the first time, and he’s running around and felt good. Barring any setbacks, I think it’s probably looking closer to the end of this month or the beginning of the new year.

“He looks good, and we’re excited to get him back soon. But I’m not sure exactly when that is. That’s sort of a day-to-day thing, but I’m looking at it more at the end of this month.”

That’s the most concrete timetable that’s been provided in a while for Smart, who hasn’t played since Nov. 20. The 21-year-old suffered a subluxation of the proximal tib-fib joint in his left knee during a collision with Brooklyn Nets forward Thomas Robinson and originally was expected to miss at least two weeks.

Smart’s return would be a welcome sight for the Celtics, who have gone just 7-7 in his absence. The second-year pro should give head coach Brad Stevens more flexibility in setting his rotation and also provide a boost to Boston’s defense, which has been solid for the most part but has suffered occasional lapses.

“Our defense has been good, it’s been pretty good all year, with the exception of maybe right out of the gates, but I think that Marcus just gives us the depth,” Ainge said. “You can always get by without any one of your players for a little bit of a time, but it does catch up. Isaiah (Thomas) and Avery (Bradley)’s minutes have increased in Marcus’ absence. Both have had great years, but we need Marcus. We need Marcus’ defense, and we need his versatility.”

Thumbnail photo via Gregory J. Fisher/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart (36) drives the ball to the basket against Toronto Raptors small forward Terrence Ross (31) defending during the 4th quarter at TD Garden. Toronto won 113-103.

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