LOS ANGELES — Marcus Smart, clad in a Versace robe as has become the custom at recent road shootarounds, plopped into a chair courtside at Staples Center and immediately declared himself ready to play not only on Wednesday night against the Clippers but the rest of the team’s trip out west.
Not that there was ever much doubt. Even as coach Brad Stevens asserted a few feet away that the team would never put Smart out there if he was at risk to further aggravate any of his maladies — but especially the right ankle he sprained on Monday in Phoenix — you just kinda knew Smart was going to duct tape himself together for Wednesday’s showdown.
After all, Smart knows no other way. So despite the fact that, just on this trip, he’s dealt with a bruised hip, two sprained fingers, and the non-contact ankle injury that looked scary when it happened, Smart plans to go full throttle versus the Clippers.
Smart did not hide from the fact that playing against what many believe is the favorite to win the NBA title, with the chance that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will play together for the first time this season, gave him extra motivation to be on the court.
"That was really actually one of the main reasons, because of who we are playing. And me being the competitor that I am, I want to be out there,” said Smart. “Obviously, if it was serious enough, obviously I'd shut it down because it is so early, but, like I said, it's not as serious. It's a minor sprain, but nothing crazy, so I'm able to still play.
"And that's what I want to do.”
Smart then spent some time gushing about fellow defensive bulldog Patrick Beverley, nothing his respect level for him is “through the roof.” Smart knows Wednesday’s showdown could be exactly his type of game.
“These are the types of games I live for,” said Smart. "You’re just going in and being as physical as you can but smart at the same time. But you've got to grind, you've got to work, and it's not going to be pretty. And those are the type of games I like to play in.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he leans on the direction of trainers in instances like this.
"First of all, [Smart is] tough and everybody knows he’s tough. But, secondly, we’re not going to put him out there if we thought — if there’s risk there,” said Stevens. "Our [trainers] feel good about — it didn’t swell, looks good, it may just be one of those lucky deals on a fall where it’s not as bad as it looks. But there’s no questioning Marcus’s toughness but, at the same time, we’re not just going to let him go out and play if there’s any long-term ramifications.”
Smart, who came onto the court a little later than most of his teammates, offered a positive report on testing the ankle earlier in the day, leading to this scene before shootaround:
Smart: “Ankle's feeling fine. A little soreness, but we tested it -- running, jumping, cutting — everything came out OK. It felt great, so …”
Jaylen Brown (seated next to Smart, loudly): “Man, he’s a'ight.”
Smart: "Yeah, what Jaylen said.”
The Celtics listed Smart as probable Tuesday and Smart said he’s confident in the ankle. He has no plans to throttle down.
"I was just born and raised and always a true believer of whatever is meant to happen on the court is going to happen, you know?” said Smart. "When you start going out there and trying to prevent it from happening or prevent an injury or anything like that, that's when you get injured. Instead of just going out there and playing and let whatever happens happen."
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.