BOSTON — While it isn’t guaranteed, all signs point to Marcus Smart suiting up for the Boston Celtics in Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
UPDATE (Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. ET): Sounds like Smart is good to go for Game 5.
ORIGINAL STORY: Smart, who hasn’t played since having surgery on his right thumb six weeks ago, was cleared by the team early Tuesday and went through some light contact drills after shootaround today, according to head coach Brad Stevens.
Stevens told reporters that Smart felt good after playing some 2-on-2 and 1-on-1, and as long as nothing changes, he will come off the bench in the pivotal Game 5.
After losing the last two games in Milwaukee, the C’s are in need of a boost and Stevens expects Smart to provide that, at least before the game adrenaline kicks in.
“I think that that certainly can happen,” Stevens said about Smart’s potential emotional impact, “and at the same time, I think then the game kicks in after a certain amount of time. So the most important thing is to focus on what you do best and get in there and do what you do best. You know, obviously we’re better with Marcus Smart, I don’t think that’s debatable.”
Stevens noted that Smart won’t have a minutes restriction but he likely won’t play a high number of minutes since it will be his first action in six weeks.
Smart’s presence should be huge on the defensive end, especially against Khris Middleton, who has had his way with the Celtics so far in the series. Through four games, Middleton is shooting 61.5 percent from the field and 62.5 percent from 3-point range while averaging 25.5 points per game.
If Smart can help slow down the red-hot Middleton, then it could swing the series in Boston’s favor.