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Celtics coach Brad Stevens says rusty Marcus Smart will play less than usual

Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart

There’s still a chance the presence of Marcus Smart could help shift the momentum of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Should that possibility come fruition, though, it will probably be due to his infectious competitive fire and zeal for defense than any sustained on-court impact.

As Brad Stevens told The Athletic’s Jay King before his team’s must-win Game 5  against the Milwaukee Bucks, Smart is still re-acclimating to the speed of the playoffs after weeks away from the court and is thus unlikely to garner major minutes on Wednesday night.

Smart played 15 minutes off the bench in the Celtics’ blowout loss to the Bucks on Monday, his first game in just short of a month. He shot just 1-of-7 from the field, all on three-pointers, scoring three points, grabbing one rebound, and doling out two assists against two turnovers. His minus-13 plus-minus was lowest among Boston reserves.

The fifth-year pro was enjoying the finest season of his career before tearing his oblique on April 10th. He was originally scheduled to return to the floor in four-to-six weeks, meaning he’s still at the very beginning of his expected timeline toward a full recovery.

Smart, who took over for Jaylen Brown as a starter in the backcourt in early December, averaged 8.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.8 steals during the regular season, numbers not far removed from his career norms. But he was far more efficient this season than in years past, shooting a solid 36.4 percent from three on over four attempts per game and a career-high 51.1 percent on twos.

Game 5 tips off from Fiserv Forum at 8:00 p.m. EST.