BOSTON -- If there's a weakness to Marcus Smart's game, it has to be knocking down shots. Having to play with a splint on his surgically repaired right (shooting hand) thump certainly hasn't helped.
But while he acknowledges there's some discomfort with wearing it, the splint has already paid dividends. He took a blow to the thumb against Philadelphia in Game 1 on Monday and, because of the protection, didn't suffer a recurrence of the injury that would have sidelined him again.
"That was the biggest risk, coming back," Smart said. "That's the reason I have the splint on, to protect it from those incidents. Just protect it as much as I can."
Going forward, Smart said there will be some modifications of some sort for Game 2 on Thursday.
"We have a few different [splints]," Smart said. "The last one was digging into my thumb, causing it to . . . I couldn't catch the ball the way I wanted to, I couldn't grip on it, things like that. We're working on cutting it down and still being able to protect the thumb."
There's no mistaking the impact Smart has made on the Celtics since returning to the lineup for Game 5 of Boston's first-round series against Milwaukee.
After being among the worst playoff scoring defenses prior to Smart's return, Boston held Milwaukee to less than 100 points scored in each of the three games Smart played in that series.
And in Game 1 against Philadelphia, the Celtics allowed 101 points . . . and even that's a bit deceiving considering Boston emptied its bench in the game's closing minutes after having already secured the victory.
But Smart's shooting remains an area in which he has struggled.
In the four playoff games Smart has come off the bench, he has averaged 3.5 points and 5.0 assists while shooting just 25.7 percent (9-for-35) from the field and 12.5 percent (2-for-16) from 3-point range.
Still, what he has brought defensively not only from an individual standpoint but also its impact on his teammates, has made it a lot easier to stomach his shooting woes.