Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Smart is expected to be a full participant in Sunday's off-day practice but Stevens does not expect the team to engage in any live action as it prepares for Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Smart had said he hoped to engage in full-contact work for the first time since tearing his oblique during the final week of the regular season. Stevens indicated that Smart would likely have to seek any potential contact activity before or after Sunday's workout.
"I'm going to talk to our training staff [on Saturday], and then, [Sunday], all indication is he will go through our practice," said Stevens. "I'm writing up our practice plan now, and I don't have any live drills on it, so if he does [contact work], it'll probably be before or after practice, if that's his next step. "
The team set a 4-6 week recovery timeline for Smart after the injury. Stevens had previously said that he expected Smart to participate in some 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 work as the next step in his rehab. Smart participated in all non-contact activities of Boston's practice on Thursday.
The team has hesitated to put a timeline on a return to game action and Smart has said he's simply taking it day-by-day. A return to contact activities would seem to suggest that the oblique tear has healed enough to allow him to start working towards a return to game action.
The Celtics trail the best-of-seven series 2-1.
With two days before Monday's Game 4, Stevens gave all of his players Saturday off with a simple game plan for the day.
"Rest, rehab, and breathe," said Stevens. "We'll have plenty of opportunity [Sunday] and Monday to meet and get ready for Game 4. We know what we need to do differently. It's a good opportunity for everybody to take a deep breath.
"Sometimes, as you go through these playoff series, sometimes that can be the best thing you can do. I thought our guys did a lot of good things last night. And it got lost, really, by that run at the end of the second, when they cut [Boston's lead] from 12 to 1 going into half, then at the end of the third when they took that lead and never really relinquished it. In a lot of ways, we played really really hard and really really well. We just have to be a little bit better against this team to have a chance to win."
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