Celtics

Marcus Smart making progress in recovery from oblique injury

Marcus Smart making progress in recovery from oblique injury

BOSTON -- It’ll be a couple more weeks before Marcus Smart, still on the mend from an oblique injury that’s expected to keep him out for at least another month, will have a good sense of how much progress he is making.

“The progress is moving the right way,” Smart said. “That’s all you can ask for.”

Smart, addressing the media for the first time since he suffered the injury against the Orlando Magic on April 7, was in relatively good spirits despite being out for all of the first-round series against Indiana and most if not all of a potential second-round series if they move past the Pacers.


“Today was the first day walking without grimacing, being in pain,” Smart said. “It still hurts to laugh, cough, sneeze but every day stuff is getting better.”

The absence of Smart heading into this series against the Pacers raised questions as to how the Celtics would fare defensively in his absence.

In Game 1, the Celtics delivered one of their best defensive performances this season in beating Indiana 84-74.

Smart, who plans to be on the Celtics bench for Game 2 on Wednesday, was pleased with how the team responded without him.

Players have repeatedly talked about how much they will miss Smart's toughness, leadership and overall impact on games.

But they also know that they must soldier on and find ways to win without the one player mentioned more than any other as the heart and soul of this franchise.

“He means a lot to us, what we're about,” Boston's Marcus Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “But it's the playoffs, man. Everybody has to step up and take advantage of this opportunity."

Morris added, “We've been a next-man-up team all year. Now, it's no different. One of our main guys is down, others have to step up. That's what we do; that's who we are.”

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LeBron James' like of Kyrie Irving-Lakers Instagram post turns heads

LeBron James' like of Kyrie Irving-Lakers Instagram post turns heads

If LeBron James is trying to be subtle, it's not working.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported this week that Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has become "more open" to joining the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and added Thursday he expects James to try to recruit Irving to L.A.

Apparently that recruiting process already has begun. The Instagram account "Cuffs the Legend" posted a doctored photo of Irving in a Lakers jersey Friday ... and guess who was one of the first to "like" the post?

The caption reads, "I like how this feels," and James' Instagram activity suggests he'd also like reuniting with Irving on the Lakers.

James and Irving have come a long way since the latter's acrimonious exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. Kyrie even admitted to calling LeBron this winter to seek leadership advice from the three-time NBA champion, so the two clearly have mended fences.

The latest scuttlebutt suggests the Lakers still trail the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets on Irving's free-agent list if he leaves Boston, but James apparently is trying to influence those rankings.

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Danny Ainge, back at work for Celtics, shouts out Kyrie Irving on Twitter

Danny Ainge, back at work for Celtics, shouts out Kyrie Irving on Twitter

Danny Ainge could only be kept away for so long.

The Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, who suffered a mild heart attack earlier this month, already has been back with the team for weeks, head coach Brad Stevens admitted Thursday, via MassLive.com.

Ainge wouldn't be forgiven for taking some recovery time after the Celtics bowed out to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. But the NBA Draft and free agency are rapidly approaching, so there's plenty for Ainge to do ... even as his coworkers urge him to pace himself.

"Danny’s a tireless worker," Celtics co-owner Steven Pagliuca said Thursday at a service for late Celtics legend John Havlicek in Boston, via MassLive.com. “We’re trying to make him slow down, but he seems very healthy and he’s on a plant-based diet, feeling good, and we’re just happy to see him back."

It turns out Ainge also is a tireless tweeter. Shortly after Kyrie Irving (also an adopter of the plant-based diet) earned second-team All-NBA honors Thursday, Ainge gave his point guard a shout-out on Twitter.

Ainge also retweeted the Celtics' tweet congratulating Irving.

Irving, of course, can become a free agent this summer and is expected to consider the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, among others. Convincing his All-Star guard to stay in Boston will be a top priority for Ainge, considering Irving's fate could impact the Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis.

Ainge's health and well-being obviously is paramount to any business the C's explore this summer, but it sounds like the 60-year-old is fully back in the swing of things.

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