MILWAUKEE — Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he will have his surgically repaired right thumb evaluated by a doctor in New York on Tuesday, and that he could then be cleared for a return to game action. Smart said that if he is cleared, he believes he will able to play in Game 6 against the Bucks on Thursday.
“Right now that’s the plan,” Smart said Sunday, before the Celtics’ 104-102 loss in Game 4 of their opening-round series. “We’re still on the same track. I’ve been doing everything but contact, so once I get the [go-ahead] and start doing contact, I’m ready for game action.”
The Celtics, of course, would rather have closed out the Bucks before a Game 6. But getting perhaps their top defender back would be a boon. For his part, Smart believes he is ready. When he returns, he will likely have a small, nonintrusive brace or sleeve protecting the thumb.
“I think the thumb, the surgery did its job,” he said. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready. I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”
Smart tore a tendon in his right thumb when he was chasing a loose ball during the Celtics’ March 11 game against the Pacers. He underwent surgery a few days later and the Celtics said he was expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.
Coach Brad Stevens said on Saturday that Smart has been taking part in most drills at practices but had yet to complete any live game-action scrimmages. But the belief is that once he is cleared to do so, he will not need extra time to work back into game shape.
“He’s shooting the ball,” Stevens said. “He’s doing everything in a workout that you can do. It’s just a matter of being cleared for live play.”
Smart said it has been difficult to watch his teammates push on in the playoffs without him.
“It’s the playoffs,” he said, “so any game around this time is going to get you antsy, especially when you come into an atmosphere like this and the outcome that happened [Friday] night wasn’t up to par to what we expect.”
Morris is frustrated
Forward Marcus Morris received a technical foul in the Celtics’ Game 3 loss, and afterward he criticized the officials for targeting him with their whistles. Morris was fined $15,000 for those comments.
“I play hard, man,” Morris said. “I don’t know no other way to play. It’s not like I’m overly talking to the referees or making infractions with the referees. It’s a game between men and we got out there and it gets chippy. We bump a little bit. It’s not over the top, but, like, every game I have to get a technical foul, you know what I mean? I’m not engaging into anything, I’m not going at the referees, I’m not talking crazy to him. For me, it’s just getting old. Fining me, teching me, it’s getting old. It’s laughable at this point.”
Matters of time
The Celtics’ two games in Milwaukee had unique starting times, leading to an unusual setup. Friday’s Game 3 began at 8:30 p.m. Central time, and Sunday’s Game 4 was a rare noon start.
“It’s interesting when you have these quick turnarounds,” Bucks interim coach Joe Prunty said. “There used to be the back-to-back deal, the Saturday/Sunday. I remember doing that one year when I was in San Antonio playing the Lakers. The bottom line is everybody has to be ready regardless of how the previous game goes, because it’s coming.”
Tuesday’s Game 5 at TD Garden starts at 7 p.m.