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Celtics expect Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart back in starting lineup on Tuesday

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said both Jae Crowder (knee) and Marcus Smart (toe) will sit out Sunday's practice, but both are expected back in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Crowder bruised his left knee late in Friday's win over the Washington Wizards and had to be helped to the locker room, but was emphatic Sunday that he'd be back for Tuesday's game. Smart sprained the big toe on his left foot last week and has missed the last two games.

"Both are feeling better," said Stevens. "Jae woke up a little stiffer today than he did [Saturday]. But they feel, for the most part, that both guys are at least projecting toward being likely available Tuesday."

Stevens later noted that both would likely be reinserted into the starting lineup should they be available and not limited by a minutes restriction.

Crowder limped after Friday's game and, while the injury was on the same knee that he injured in the playoffs last season, he knew this wasn't nearly as severe.

"I'm a little sore, which is expected," said Crowder. "I got treatment two times [Saturday] and I'll get some more today. It's just stiffness. It did get stiff on me -- and soreness, which we already expected, so just keep getting massage, keep getting ice. I'll be fine."

Pressed on his status for Tuesday, Crowder added, "Yeah, I'm for sure going. For sure."

If both Smart and Crowder return to the starting lineup, that would bump Isaiah Thomas back to his more familiar reserve role. After two spot starts the past two games, Thomas was asked about the difference in those roles.

"There’s no difference, honestly," said Thomas. "I’m going to be myself and that’s be highly aggressive, make plays for not just myself but for my teammates, and go out there and control the game. If I’m starting or coming off the bench, I’m a point guard. I’m a guard that leads this team and makes decisions for this team and you just have to be ready for any opportunity that you get."

Regardless of when he enters, Thomas said he has lobbied Stevens for as much floor time as possible.

"I’m trying to play as many minutes as possible. I trained in the offseason to be prepared for that and to maximize my time while I’m out there on the floor," said Thomas. "I tell Coach all the time, I do want to play 48 minutes. It’s not realistic, but I’m capable of playing 30, 35 minutes and playing at a high level. That’s what I’m in the gym for each and every day to prepare myself for that and, whenever my name is called, just to be ready."

What did Stevens learn about Thomas in his stint as a starter?

"I haven’t learned anything about Isaiah. I knew he was a heck of a player," said Stevens. "He helps us score the ball, there’s no question about that. But he didn’t look any different with the first unit as he does when he comes off the bench. He’s just a really good player."