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Marcus Smart out vs. Cavs, hopes to play Saturday vs. Raptors

Celtics, Marcus Smart

CMarcus Smart has missed the Boston Celtics’ last seven games with a scary eye infection, but he appears to be getting closer to returning to the court. Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters on Friday morning that Smart will miss that night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the veteran guard is hoping to return to the court when Boston faces off against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Smart recently told reporters the details of his infection, which was evidently severe. He called it “hell” and said it was “really scary,” and he feared he would go permanently blind. He was unable to leave his house when it was at its worst, for fear of aggravating his eyes.

Stevens went further, saying the Celtics’ team doctors had never seen an infection as bad as the one Smart suffered. There was definitely fear from all corners that it could carry permanent implications for Smart.

“The last report I got, they didn’t think they’ve seen one this bad,” Stevens said. “He’s just really had a tough go about it. So I don’t know when he’ll be back. He’s still not around here.”

Smart has been a key player for the Celtics in recent years, especially on the defensive end, and he was having an excellent season in 2019-20 before he contracted the eye infection. In his sixth season with Boston, he’s averaging 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 steals in 31.8 minutes per game in 20 games, 15 of them starts. The Celtics have a 21-7 record, good for second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Celtics have gone 5-2 in the seven games Smart has missed since he got the infection. With the division-rival Raptors coming up on Saturday, it would be huge for Boston to get the versatile guard back on the floor as they continue their playoff push.