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Marcus Smart will return to lineup Thursday vs. Nets [UPDATE]

Celtics are getting their anchor back on defense to start the second half. We break down the impact.

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics looks on during the game against the Detroit Pistons on February 12, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: March 11, 6:04 p.m. — Smart will be limited to 20-22 minutes in his return to the lineup Thursday vs. the Nets, head coach Brad Stevens told reporters before the game. The Celtics haven’t released their starting lineup yet, so we’ll see if Smart comes off the bench or not.

Boston Celtics G Marcus Smart is expected to return to the lineup for Thursday’s game vs. the Brooklyn Nets. Smart has been sidelined since the end of January due to a calf injury, missing 18 games in the process. The Celtics went a clean 9-9 with Smart out of the lineup, so his addition back in there will be huge. With Smart likely back in there, this should have a major impact on the lines going up against the mighty Nets in Brooklyn in a big Eastern Conference matchup.

We’ll see how many minutes Smart is expected to play. Chances are he’ll be listed as questionable or probable heading into Thursday on the official injury report. This is just Smart saying he’s likely to play, but things can change. If he does return, Smart will be on a minutes restriction and we don’t know if he’ll start or not. The Celtics had been running bigger lineups featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson. Theis or Thompson will eventually go to the bench in favor of Smart, moving Tatum back to PF.

This probably won’t move the needle on the lines for Celtics-Nets on Thursday much. Smart isn’t expected to play a ton of minutes. Normally, we’d put more stock into Smart and Brown matching up against James Harden and Kyrie Irving. This could open up some value in the Nets spread, which has been favorable this season. Also monitor the over/under total. Smart could provide a bit on defense but he also hasn’t played in over a month.