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The Celtics get a defensive boost as Smart cleans up to come back

BOSTON (AP) – Celtics goalkeeper Marcus Smart says he expects to be out for the first time in more than a month when Boston opens the second half of his schedule in Brooklyn on Thursday night.

Smart said he felt good after training with the club on Wednesday, that he was able to return to the Celtics’ game against the Nets after missing 18 games with a torn left calf.

“At this moment I will play, I will be present at the game tomorrow,” he said.

Coach Brad Stevens said Smart’s return should provide an immediate boost.

“He’s a guy who knows how to play, he plays on both ends of the pitch, he makes us better on both sides of the pitch,” said Stevens.

Boston would be available for the full season for the first time this season, but after wrist surgery this season, Romeo Langford, who has been in the league’s health and safety record, will not travel with the team to Brooklyn.

Stevens said Langford had been given permission to restart the game, it would have been available if he had not been included in the record. Still, Stevens said that he is looking forward to the game with the Nets.

“It will be a big litmus test to see where we stand, because I think they are obviously the team that will be very difficult for teams to beat,” he said.

Smart has been the Celtics’ defense engine for most of his seven seasons at Belton, with the team struggling on the other end of the field without him, going 9-9, allowing rivals 46.5% in that area, averaging 112. 5 points.

He said it was frustrating to watch the fall from the sidelines without being able to influence it.

“Especially when you know how good we can be on the defensive team, that is, we,” said Smart. “And for me, being a defensive guy, it’s tough. But being there, I have to look at it from a different perspective. When everyone else looks at the negatives, I look at the positives. ”

What he sees are things that can be fixed, that the Celtics can control with their own efforts.

“And what I have to do is bring back our defensive energy,” Smart said.

He will get his chance right from the gate.

Brooklyn, which holds the second best record of the Archel Conference, has the best 121.1 points in the championship. Utah, who visit Boston on Tuesday, are third in the league with 116.6 points.

Both teams have dynamic strikers. Smart will almost certainly take the time to maintain them.

It can be a difficult proposition to consider Smart’s first chance to play 5 on 5, as the injury occurred during training on Tuesday. “That’s why he will have a one-minute limit for at least a few games,” said Stevens.

But Smart said he was not too worried about aggravating the damage; he was doing focused training to strengthen the muscle to avoid recurrence.

“It’s always been that way for me, any kind of injury I’ve had,” Smart said. “When you think about it, you worry about it, you should not think like that.

“You have to trust your body. You have to trust the things you do, just get out there and do it. ”


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