Marc Stein: As they prepare to leave the country today, Team USA gets one roster boost to counter the unexpected departure of De'Aaron Fox: Marcus Smart, I'm told, has been cleared to make a full return to the court from the calf injury that has sidelined him for the past week-plus
John Karalis: Gregg Popovich on Marcus Smart: "He’s going to be a day-to-day type of thing. Probably won’t practice the next couple of days I wouldn’t think."
Jay King: Brad Stevens said “there’s no question” Marcus Smart is excited to be back and others are too. “That should give us a good lift.”
Tim Bontemps: Brad Stevens: “I knew he was gonna play. It was one of those things where he had to get approval from the trainers, and it was one of those situations where it was basically a thumbs up emoji.”
Malika Andrews: Brad Stevens says that Marcus Smart will spend some time on Middleton. Smart will be available to play “short stints” in Game 4.
Malika Andrews: Mike Budenholzer, unsurprisingly, says Marcus Smart being active doesn’t change much about the Bucks approach. “We prepared for the Celtics,” Bud said. That includes Smart. “He’s obviously a very good player.”
Tim Bontemps: The Celtics have made it official: Marcus Smart is available for Game 4.
Sean Grande: Marcus Smart will play in Game 4 tonight. No "minute restriction", but "short stints", per Brad Stevens
Chris Forsberg: Celtics officially upgrade Marcus Smart to questionable for Game 4. He’s the only player on the injury report.
Adam Himmelsbach: Kyrie on possible Smart return: "It’s exciting. He’s a big part of our team. He alleviates a lot of different pressures out there throughout the game and makes my job a lot easier."
Gary Washburn: Marcus Smart: "I'm getting really close." Would not count out a return tomorrow. #Celtics
Marcus Smart, who confirmed Friday to the Herald that his plan is to go through contact Sunday for the first time since suffering a torn oblique muscle four weeks ago, remains on schedule. But based on Stevens’ practice plans for today, that contact may be happening off to the side. “I have not heard if he completed a workout today. When he came through, I did not hear if he got on the court,” Stevens said. “I’m going to talk to our training staff after that, and then tomorrow all indication is he will go through our practice. I’m writing up our practice plan now, and I don’t have any live drills on it, so if he does something, it’ll probably be before or after practice if that’s his next step.”
Chris Forsberg: Brad Stevens on Marcus Smart: “From all indications, he’ll go through our practice” on Sunday. Brad says his current practice plan has no live drills on it, so if Smart does any contact activities, it’ll be outside of practice.
Chris Forsberg: Marcus Smart on oblique injury: "Pain level is going down. ... It's not as sore, so that's even better. Mild contact … two weeks ago that was excruciating pain for me. This week it is better. Like I said, day-by-day it continues to get better.” Next step: Live contact.
Adam Himmelsbach: Smart: "Today was a great day. I was able to do some things more and more. This is the next step, the next process to getting me back on the court to be able to do simple things... like driving to the rim and really moving and getting my abdominal and torso muscles going."
Marcus Smart is moving closer to a return from his left oblique tear, and while there’s still uncertainty as to when that will be, another question has entered the picture. With the Celtics’ rotation playing so well in his absence through the first five games/wins of the postseason, one might think he’s concerned about messing that up when he’s ready to go.
“The beauty about me is I’m not too worried about the individual things,” Smart told the Herald as the Celts took the court Tuesday morning to prepare for Game 2 against the Bucks. “So, you know, I’m willing to do whatever and I’m going to do whatever when I come back to keep this momentum going, this flow going. And like they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So right now we’re rocking, and it’s no need to change that. So even if I’m able to come back this series or next series or whenever I do come back, there’s no reason to change what’s working right now.”
And no matter how big or small his role may be, “I’m cool with it,” he said. “I’m here to win games and try to win a championship for my team and the city. I’m not worried about individual stats or anything like that. When you win, everything falls into place, so I’ll just try to do everything I can to help this team win when I come back.”
Despite Smart’s progress, Brad Stevens was hesitant to raise expectations. “I didn’t really see (Smart’s treadmill workout),” Stevens said. “It doesn’t surprise me, because they said he’s making good progress. But it didn’t sound like the timeline was changing all that much from when I last talked to the training staff about it. I really haven’t talked about it in the last probably week or so. “I know he’s not close to playing. I know he’s progressed well, but I don’t know what that means.”
Jay King: Marcus Smart said the pain when he first got injured was like if Mike Tyson hit him with a body blow. Said after he went in, when he crumbled, it felt like he got shot.
Adam Himmelsbach: Smart says it still hurts to get shots up but it feels better than a few days ago. “We’re making progress.” Plans to start jogging in “the next couple weeks.”
If there is a short-term sign of progress, it will be Smart’s presence on the bench for Game 2 tomorrow night against Indiana. He wasn’t able to leave his house on Sunday. “I’ll be at the game tomorrow on the bench. It’ll be good to be able to get on the bench and be out there with those guys,” he said. “I had to watch it not from the bench, in the back at home, things like that, so it was really frustrating to not be out there with those guys at that time. But I’ll be there tomorrow.”
Little wonder that Smart’s next steps will be gradual. “I really need to walk fluidly, breathe more fluidly and just the everyday things like around the house like getting up and things like that,” he said. “I couldn’t get up. The last four or five days I needed help. But the next mark to see where I’m at is probably in two weeks, at the four-week mark and hopefully it’s progressed more than now and hopefully I can start running or jogging by then and hopefully shooting a basketball, so that’s my next mark and that’s what I’m trying to get to.”
The advice of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who both missed the 2018 playoffs to injury, counts for even more. “Oh man, they’ve been huge, just really talking to me,” said Smart. “You’re not alone. The team’s here for you. Just showering me with love and encouragement. Obviously they’re devastated that I’m not out there, but really keeping me in my right mind, sane. Being able to get on the court is the way I was able to deal with a lot of things that caused frustration. Not being able to do that now is adding onto it. So it’s good getting that advice now.”
Jay King: Danny Ainge said the Celtics thought Marcus Smart’s injury was a hip pointer until MRI yesterday: “That’s a bummer.” Joked: “Maybe Terry will have some fun now.
Chris Forsberg: Terry Rozier on Marcus Smart injury: “Obviously, it’s tough seeing it but I feel like I’m more important to the series now. I’m more needed. Obviously, I’m going to have to step up. I’m gonna be ready for it.”
Chris Forsberg: Celtics release statement saying Smart suffered a "partial avulsion of his left oblique abdominal muscle off of his iliac crest.” Return to action timeline is 4-6 weeks. pic.twitter.com/9zZhT6iLHm
Adam Himmelsbach: Per sources, Marcus Smart was to undergo an MRI yesterday but the pain was too severe. He had one this afternoon instead that revealed a significant oblique injury. Return timeline is unclear, but he is expected to miss at least the first round of the playoffs, as @Adrian Wojnarowski said.
Adam Himmelsbach: Stevens says Tatum and Smart trending upward but both still sore. Tatum further along than Smart.
Not only did the Celtics lose to the Orlando Magic at TD Garden Sunday night, 116-108, but Boston also lost guard Marcus Smart and forward Jayson Tatum to injuries. Smart sustained a left oblique strain, a source tells ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, though coach Brad Stevens called it a bruise. Tatum has a left shin contusion.
Boston eventually called a timeout, and Smart limped to the bench -- only to convince the training staff that he was all right, and could stay in the game. But after the Celtics had the ball for one offensive possession -- a possession where Smart was clearly moving gingerly -- he called for the bench to replace him as he limped back on defense before falling to the ground, holding his side. "He felt like it was spasming on that second trip down the court," Stevens said. Smart would eventually get to his feet and hobble to the locker room with help from the trainers. "We'll see what that looks like tomorrow," Stevens said. "He was a little sore, but was walking around, which was good, in the locker room."
Brian Robb: Rozier and Theis are out due to illness tonight. Tatum (shoulder) and Smart (illness) are expected to play, per Celtics.
Jay King: Marcus Smart officially out against the Nets, per the Celtics. PJ Dozier has been recalled from the Red Claws with Boston's starting backcourt out.
Chris Mannix: Marcus Smart tells @The Vertical he experienced more soreness than usual in his injured thumb tonight, due to the positioning of the splint protecting it. Says he will adjust it before the next game. "I'm not worried about it," Smart tells Y!
Jay King: Marcus Smart said he felt "no soreness" in his thumb after Game 5. "My body's more sore than my thumb is so that's a good sign as well."
Chris Forsberg: Celtics 92, Bucks 87 Al Horford 22 points, 14 rebounds. Marcus Smart 9 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists in his first game in six weeks. Celtics up 3-2 going back to Milwaukee.
Chris Forsberg: Marcus Smart checks in for the first time since March 11. Garden reacts accordingly.
Jared Weiss: Brad Stevens explains Marcus Smart's pregame workout: "It was more of a jog through, put a body on people. Those types of things. (Alex) Barlow was the main guy and, I mean, anybody in here can beat Barlow. Getting a little physical. Maybe not Scal."
Scott Souza: #Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Smart has no minute restriction because of thumb, but that he "won't play 35 minutes tonight" because he's been out six weeks.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he will have his surgically repaired right thumb evaluated by a doctor in New York on Tuesday, and that he could then be cleared for a return to game action. Smart said that if he is cleared, he believes he will able to play in Game 6 against the Bucks on Thursday. “Right now that’s the plan,” Smart said Sunday, before the Celtics’ 104-102 loss in Game 4 of their opening-round series. “We’re still on the same track. I’ve been doing everything but contact, so once I get the [go-ahead] and start doing contact, I’m ready for game action.”
“I think the thumb, the surgery did its job,” he said. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready. I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.” Smart tore a tendon in his right thumb when he was chasing a loose ball during the Celtics’ March 11 game against the Pacers. He underwent surgery a few days later and the Celtics said he was expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
May 22, 2022 | 7:42 pm EDT Update
Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee) intends to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics on Monday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The six-time All-Star is being listed as questionable for Monday. Miami is also listing Kyle Lowry (hamstring), Tyler Herro (groin), P.J. Tucker (knee), Max Strus (hamstring) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring) as questionable.
May 22, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update
Since these bench decorum issues generally have been resolved after the league intervenes, technical fouls have not been used a deterrent, and the league does not plan to start issuing techs during the conference finals. However, the topic will be discussed in the offseason, and the league will explore ways to address bench decorum during games in real time, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.