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Celtics News: Marcus Smart 'Hopeful' to Play in Game 4; Listed as Questionable

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2019

Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart in action during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics trail the Milwaukee Bucks 2-1 in their second-round playoff series, but they may be getting critical reinforcements for Monday’s Game 4.

"Feeling good today," Marcus Smart said while revealing he is "hopeful" he will play in the next game, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. "We're taking it one day at a time but we're definitely in the right position, right time, progressive phase to where I'm getting really close to coming back here."

Smart hasn’t played since he suffered a torn oblique April 7, but Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe noted he is listed as questionable.

"Reading the tea leaves from today, I think that means as long as he doesn't wake up sore as hell, he's playing," Himmelsbach added.

According to Bontemps, Smart was expected to resume basketball activities in four to six weeks when he suffered the injury and was cleared for contact Saturday.

"I'm trying all kinds of things to get hit," Smart said. "Coming off screens, guarding guys who are going around screens, in the post when I get the ball guys are checking me with elbows here and there to kinda test me. Like I said, everything has checked out fine ... I'm just going to see how my body recovers."

The Oklahoma State product averaged 8.9 points, 4.0 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game during the regular season and shot a career-best 36.4 percent from three-point range. He can help take advantage of the openings created when Milwaukee collapses around Kyrie Irving’s penetration.

However, his impact would be most felt on the defensive side, where he is known for his physicality and willingness to guard the opponent’s best players. Foes shot 1.8 percent worse from three-point range than their normal averages when he defended them, per NBA.com, which is exactly the defensive presence Boston needs against Khris Middleton.

The All-Star wingman has torched the Celtics at times in this series and scored 28 points on 7-of-10 shooting from deep in Game 2 and 20 points in Game 3. Overall, he is shooting 65 percent from three-point range this series alone.

Smart can help keep him contained and allow the rest of his teammates to focus on stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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