The Celtics won’t have to play without Marcus Smart much longer. After a one-game absence, the man of many roles and many injuries is expected to return to the lineup Friday against the Denver Nuggets.
Smart missed the Celtics’ win over the Miami Heat Wednesday with an illness and bruised abdomen. He participated in shootaround Friday and said he feels considerably better than Sunday, when he left the win over the New York Knicks after a collision with Kevin Knox.
“New York literally killed me,” Smart joked. “It was brutal. The oblique injury. Just feeling a lot better; still sore but the soreness is at a lower level. It hasn’t stopped me with my movements. My breathing is getting better.
“From the oblique, the sickness just came out of nowhere. It’s been a lot for me the last 72 hours.”
Smart said he woke up in a cold sweat late Tuesday night and was sent home from Wednesday’s shootaround. After taking some medication and getting ready, Smart said he plans to play Friday.
Smart is being cautious with his oblique because he suffered a tear in that area last April and missed the first-round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers. He said he’s considering wearing protection during games.
“We tried it when I came back the first time, and you tend to get hit where the padding is, and some way, somehow, you still find yourself injured,” he said. “I’d rather be comfortable than having a pad. We’ll have to discuss that and see where it goes. Most likely I’ll be trying some type of padding.”
The Celtics haven’t approached Smart about taking time off because of injuries — oblique, ankle, hand — but he said he’s considered it and decided to play.
“I miss playing; I miss being out here with these guys,” he said. “Obviously if I felt that I couldn’t go, I wouldn’t play.
“ I’m feeling fine and they give me the OK to go. I’ll go.”
Smart said the time off has allowed him to rest his sore left hand, which especially bothered him in the Nov. 29 loss to Brooklyn.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said there a “high 70s-low 80s” percent chance that Gordon Hayward returns prior to the team’s Christmas Day game with the Toronto Raptors. Hayward broke his left hand Nov. 9 and had surgery two days later. He has been shooting for the past week and doing through live workouts with members of the coaching staff. Hayward could return to practice Sunday.