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.
Marcus Smart: "Being out here watching these guys and not being on the floor makes it even tougher. I’ve been stressing a bit not being on the court, plus with the injury, and it’s frustrating, but you have to take it day-by-day and one day at a time." pic.twitter.com/ktC6SNfD7g— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) April 16, 2019
“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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