Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart sees ‘strong potential’ to play in Game 3 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

BOSTON – On a Thursday afternoon after practice, Boston Celtics coach Im Odoka asked how his team would play without Marcus Smart, the NBA’s best defensive player, in their Game Two win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Odoka looked up and noticed the green-tipped Smart Hair standing behind a row of cameras and decided it was time to have a little fun.

“We don’t need Marcus, frankly,” Odoka murmured before peeking into the back of the room while nodding at Smart, who was laughing well.

It was easy for both men to be in cheerful moods for two reasons: The Celtics defeated The Bucks in Game Two on Tuesday even in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and there’s a good chance Smart will be back for Game 3 in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Smart said there was a “strong possibility” he would be available for the competition after missing Game 2 due to a correct quadruple contusion. He sat in the bout, with a massive 109-86 win for the Celtics, having injured a muscle multiple times in Game 1.

Smart said he was injured near the knee and that fluid buildup from the injury was restricting movement there. Reclaiming that movement will be the last hurdle to be cleared before he is allowed back onto the field.

“Once that goes away, I have to get back to feeling myself,” Smart said. “Everything else heals the right way.”

Odoka said Smart got some work in court during Thursday’s training.

“We’ll know more tomorrow based on how we feel today,” Odoka said. “But he obviously looks better today than he did. Just moving around and walking around the last few days when he couldn’t go. We’ll know more tomorrow.”

Smart said he couldn’t sleep before Match 2 or take a regular pre-game nap because he was too nervous about missing out on the game.

“I wish I was there with my guys,” Smart said. “It’s really tough. My guys know, anyone who knows me understands that if I’m going to miss a match, especially the playoff match, there must be something really wrong.”

This isn’t the first time Smart has dealt with injury this season. He missed six games in January with a correct quadruple contusion and this time said it wasn’t just a similar injury – it’s the same thing.

“Literally the exact same person in the exact same place,” Smart said. “As we all know, injuries like these, they kind of linger.”

Throughout Game 2, Smart interacted with his teammates and was pointing at things he saw in real time, trying to help out as best he could.

Teammate Robert Williams III said they are looking to regain their full power with Smart.

“It is clearly encouraging to see him take any steps forward,” Williams said. “I told him, ‘Make sure you’re okay. We want you to be there, but make sure you’re right.'”

When Smart returns to the series, he wants to be the player named the best defender in the league this season and nothing less.

“I mean, for me, if I was there, I should be able to do the things I was doing, or I shouldn’t be there,” Smart said.

“So when I’m back, I’m going back to be me, that’s all I can really say about it. Because if I wasn’t there, it was because I didn’t feel like I was 100 percent to be there and do the things I think I’m supposed to do.”