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NBA - US Sports: Smart in line for Celtics return

Marcus Smart is expected to return for Boston Celtics when they take on Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday.

(This article was originally published on 19.05.2022) 

Miami lead the series 1-0 after a 118-107 win in the opener.  The Heat are 5/7 to win in the Money Line on Thursday and Boston can be backed at 29/20.

Smart set to return

Smart missed the first game in Miami due to a foot sprain but he is likely to be involved on Thursday as the Celtics have listed his status as probable. 

The 28-year-old led Boston in assists in the regular season at an average of 5.9 per-game and in the playoffs he is averaging 6.2, as well as 15 points-per-game and 3.7 rebounds.

Derrick White started at point guard in Smart's absence but was unable to make the same kind of impact with just three points and four assists, while he failed to register a rebound or a steal. 

Payton Pritchard could start ahead of White if Smart does miss Game 2 as he came off the bench and managed 18 point, four assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes.

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No excuses

The Celtics were also without center Al Horford in Game 1 as he entered health and safety protocols and guard Jaylen Brown admits Boston missed the two starters, but he remains confident they can fight back and level the series on Thursday before the two teams head to Boston for the next two games.

"We definitely wasn't prepared to be without Al and Smart. So, it's not an excuse. We got to be better," said Brown, via NESN.

Horford is likely to miss Thursday's game and the Celtics will also be without reserve forward Sam Hauser due to a shoulder issue.

Miami also have a key injury concern as Kyle Lowry is expected to miss out once again. 

Lowry hasn't played since Game 4 of the second round series against Philadelphia 76ers and the veteran guard has been limited to just five games in the postseason due to a hamstring issue.

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