Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart made his presence felt during his return to the C’s lineup in a, 92-87, Game 5 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night.

Early Tuesday morning, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens revealed that Smart had a reevaluation on his right thumb on Monday and “it went as well as anyone could have hoped.”

“He still has to go through some things later this morning after our shootaround, and then we’ll see how he feels after that,” said Stevens to Taylor Snow of Celtics.com. “If he feels good, then he’s been cleared physically to go. If he has any pain or anything comes up, then we’ll hold him out.”

And long and behold, “Marcus Smart felt “great” during shootaround and 2-on-2 work, and if he doesn’t have any residual effects, he’ll be available tonight,” said Brad Stevens via the C’s Twitter account.

Smart made his presence felt on the defensive end early in the game with this gnarly block.

The Celtics have really missed his size, footwork and knack for getting after the basketball over the team’s final 15 regular season games and the first four games in the opening round NBA Playoff series against the Bucks.

Smart is the kind of defender who can guard any team’s best player without question and hesitation. He’s what I like to call a “Savage.”

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With Kyrie Irving hanging out on the sideline, the Celtics have been in need of a ball handler besides the struggling Shane Larkin.

Stevens told our own ‘Zolak and Bertrand’ on Wednesday morning that Smart “made a huge difference” in the game and played “very solid defensively.”

Smart showed “some rust offensively,” but that’s to be expected after being out since March 14, after undergoing thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb.

One of his two made field goal attempts came in the early part of the fourth when he drove to hole and finished this ridiculous layup.

Stevens went onto tell the midday guys that Smart has been with the team throughout the Celtics run and he’s certainly in the know.

“He’s locked in,” said Stevens.

Smart was “antsy and ready to go,” said Stevens. Especially with his newly fitted splint for his ailing hand.

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According to Stevens, the team wanted to keep Smart between “20-30 minutes” because they “didn’t want to overload him.”

Sure Smart has been keeping up with conditioning and all of that, but it’s a completely different animal when you get into the speed and flow of the game.

In 54 regular season game this season, Smart averaged 10.2 points-per-game on 36.7 percent shooting from the field and 30.1 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 29.9 minutes-per-game.

In his epic return, he put up nine points, five boards and four assists in 25 minutes. Plus he had a steal and three blocks. And he shot 28.5 percent from the field, while knocking down all five free throw attempts.

That’s not a bad start for a guy who’s missed 19 games since mid-March. But we should be expecting more out of him moving forward. Especially if the Celtics make it past the Bucks and onto the Philadelphia 76ers.

Prior to the start of the series, Al Horford was deemed the C’s “X-Factor.” But after Smart’s return, he can called “X-Factor 2.0.”

He has a real chance to impact this series and beyond if he plays somewhat well on both ends on the floor. Particularly on the defensive end. But with his vision and ball distribution, he can cause some real havoc on the offensive side of things.

The Celtics are now now heading to Milwaukee looking to finish off the opening series in Game 6 on Thursday night.

UP NEXT: The Boston Celtics (55-27/3-2) will hit the road to continue their first round action against the Milwaukee Bucks (44-38/2-3) on Thursday night in Game 6 of the NBA Playoffs. Catch the call of the game with Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell, live on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Pre-game coverage begins at 7:30 p.m., with tip-off set for 8:00 p.m.

— By John ‘The Dude’ Hardiman, 985TheSportsHub.com

John Hardiman is a Digital Producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for John? Hit him up on Twitter @HardiDude or e-mail him at jhardiman@985thesportshub.com.

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