Celtics’ Smart optimistic he’ll be available for Game 3

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart says there’s a “strong likelihood” he’ll play Saturday after missing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal with a bruised right thigh.

“We’re just dealing with the last part of it, and that’s getting that restriction off of the knee and the joint so I can be able to bend,” Smart said Thursday in a Zoom session from Boston. “Once that goes away, I should be back to myself. Everything else is healing up the right way.”

Celtics coach Ime Udoka said “we’ll know more tomorrow, how he reacts to what he did today.” The series is tied 1-1 as it heads back to Milwaukee after the Celtics earned a 109-86 victory in Game 2.

Smart said the injury is similar to an issue he faced in the regular season. The NBA defensive player of the year missed six games in January due to a quadriceps problem. He added he’s also dealing with fluid in his knee.

“It’s literally the exact same one in the exact same spot,” Smart said. “Just reaggravating the same injury I’ve been dealing with. As we all know, injuries like that, they kind of linger.”

Smart said the injury is particularly bothersome when he tries to get into a defensive crouch.

“That’s what’s kind of keeping me back, because of the fluid on the knee that is restricting that movement to really bend down as much as I need to, especially to get into a defensive stance and explode and push off. It’s kind of hard to get out there and play when you can’t do that.”

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