MILWAUKEE – With Boston’s 104-102 Game 3 loss to Milwaukee, the Celtics are guaranteed a return trip to Milwaukee for Game 6 later this week.
At that point in the series, both team’s depth will be an issue.
Boston’s depth hasn’t been great, but it potentially could be better if Marcus Smart is cleared to play following a right thumb injury suffered last month.
The 6-foot-4 guard will have a check-up on Tuesday and if he’s cleared to resume practicing with the team, that would pave the way for him to be available to play in Game 6 on Thursday.
“That’s the plan. We’re still on the same track,” Smart said.
Smart has been working diligently with the training staff since he had his right thumb surgically repaired last month.
“I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there,” Smart said. “I’m just waiting for the OK.”
In the meantime, Smart has been walking around with one type of splint to help insure that he doesn’t accidentally bump his thumb and potentially do damage to it. That splint is different than the one he will play with upon getting cleared to return to action. While the idea of playing with a splint may not seem ideal, Smart said he’s comfortable shooting with it.
Before playoff games 2, 3 and 4 of this series with Boston, Smart has been on the floor prior to the game working on his perimeter shooting, dribble-drive, pull-ups, free throws and pretty much anything he does shooting-wise during a game. Smart has also worked on his conditioning, lateral quickness drills and other work to help strengthen his core, all done with him returning sooner rather than later.
But ultimately, it is Smart's comfort level with his right hand and the splint that he'll play with, that will determine what kind of impact one can expect once he returns to action.
“It feels like it’s nothing there,” Smart said of playing with the splint. “To have that comfortability in my dominant hand, my shooting hand, that’s a good feeling to have.”
Smart, who has distinguished himself as Boston’s top perimeter defender, has appeared in 54 games for the Celtics this season. The fourth-year guard averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds this season while playing 29.9 minutes per game.