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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NBA Rumors: GMs in favor of play-in tournament when season resumes

NBA Rumors: GMs in favor of play-in tournament when season resumes

On Thursday, the NBA took another step toward figuring out the best way to return to action.

Commissioner Adam Silver held a conference call with the league's general managers to review a survey that was delivered to teams last week. In the survey, GMs voted on potential formats to resume play.

Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reports about 75 percent of GMs were in favor of a play-in tournament between bubble teams rather than a World Cup-style group stage. Front-running teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks favored the play-in tourney as it would give them a far easier path to the NBA Finals.

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More from O'Connor:

General managers were surveyed about a 'playoffs-plus' format—either a play-in tournament between the bubble teams to determine the final seeds in the playoffs, or a World Cup–style group stage, which would replace the end of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs with a round-robin format. About 75 percent of teams voted in favor of a play-in tournament, sources said, while 25 percent of teams voted in favor of the group stage.

Although many GMs are in favor of the play-in tournament, that doesn't mean the league will go in that direction.

“Adam [Silver] isn’t taking the results seriously,” a team executive told O'Connor. “Every team is obviously gonna vote for what’s best for them.”

Still, it's a noteworthy development and one that could not only impact how the NBA proceeds with its 2019-20 campaign, but also how it approaches future playoff formats.

For more details from O'Connor, check out his full article here.

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Celtics At Home: Daniel Theis recalls experience playing games without fans

Celtics At Home: Daniel Theis recalls experience playing games without fans

The Boston Celtics hosting a playoff game in an empty arena would be a bizarre experience.

Take it from the guy who's played in front of empty arenas.

Celtics big man Daniel Theis played several years of professional basketball in his native Germany before joining the C's in 2017. On the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics At Home," Theis explained that preseason games often didn't have fans, which created an atmosphere he didn't exactly enjoy.

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"It's definitely weird just thinking about it," Theis told host Brian Scalabrine. "Thinking back for me, playing in Germany in preseason games when you have scrimmages and no fans in there. You hear every voice, every word, every step. It's annoying."

Games without fans could be the NBA's new reality as it aims to safely resume play amid the coronavirus pandemic. Germany's top soccer league, the Bundesliga -- which Theis has been following intently -- is already playing games in empty arenas.

But while Theis wants to get back on the court, he doesn't sound thrilled about playing games without fans again -- especially if that means losing the home-crowd advantage that Boston provides.

"When I watched the soccer games this weekend, it was just -- it didn't feel right," Theis said. "Especially in Boston, when it comes to the playoffs and the fans at TD Garden are so important and so loud ... Then I can imagine now just playing a playoff game with nobody in there, it feels probably like a practice game or scrimmage."

Theis also discussed some of the Celtics' best Zoom guest speakers during Episode Three of "Celtics At Home," which includes guest appearances from C's legends Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Walton.

Check out the full episode of "Celtics At Home" below or on our YouTube page: