4:26pm: Stevens said that Smart felt great after the morning shootaround and is expected to play Tuesday, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.
11:03am: The potential return date for Celtics guard Marcus Smart keeps getting moved up. After initially aiming to play in a possible Game 7 in the first round, Smart said over the weekend that he may actually be back for Game 6 against the Bucks. Now, it appears he could suit up for the C’s in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
As Taylor Snow of Celtics.com details, head coach Brad Stevens said Smart’s injured right thumb was re-evaluated on Monday and he has been given the OK to return, as long as he clears a few more hurdles leading up to tonight’s game.
“He still has to go through some things later this morning after our shootaround, and then we’ll see how he feels after that,” Stevens said. “If he feels good, then he’s been cleared physically to go. If he has any pain or anything comes up, then we’ll hold him out.”
Given how eager Smart has been to return to the Celtics’ lineup, it’s hard to imagine him not playing on Tuesday in Boston now that he has received medical clearance. If he’s able to play, it will be his first game since March 11 — he underwent surgery on March 16 to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb.
While Smart’s offensive numbers this season (10.2 PPG on .367/.301/.729 shooting) were modest, he’s one of the Celtics’ most important defensive players. And with Kyrie Irving sidelined, Smart’s return will help provide more depth in Boston’s backcourt, taking some pressure off Terry Rozier at the point.