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Marcus Smart uncertain on return date: 'You can't tell your body what to do'

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart remains on crutches, will wear an immobilizing knee brace for at least another week and is uncertain exactly when he'll return to game action due to a left knee injury.

Smart, sitting in a locker room chair as he met with reporters for the first time since suffering a subluxation of the proximal tibfib joint during last Friday's win over the Brooklyn Nets, expressed hope that he might be able to return in a "couple of weeks" but stressed that the recovery process will dictate the actual timeline.

"We’re taking it day by day. You can’t tell your body what to do," Smart said. "A body has a mind of its own and does what it wants. We’re waiting to see how it reacts to things with the rest I’m getting and the rehab and everything, hopefully I can be back in a couple of weeks."

Smart suffered the injury when he bumped knees with Brooklyn's Thomas Robinson defending a layup attempt. Coach Brad Stevens repeatedly has called the injury "unique" and the team sought multiple MRIs and medical opinions before determining that surgery was not necessary. Smart said he must wear a brace to immobilize the knee joint and allow the injury to scar.

Despite the latest setback, Smart remains upbeat. The second-year guard missed 10 games due to an ankle injury in his rookie season and another because of an Achilles issue. Smart dislocated two fingers at summer league, then missed three games earlier this season with a sprained big toe.

Smart missed his fourth straight game due to the knee injury on Friday, and Stevens suggested that the earliest we might see him again was Dec. 15, meaning he'd miss at least 12 games -- and even that might be optimistic.

"It was a minimum of two weeks. I think it sounds like it’d be unlikely that he would play through any of our [upcoming] road games," Stevens said referencing Boston's five-game trip that opens Sunday in Orlando. "I’d still say that it could very well be a long shot when we get back for those home games -- Chicago, Golden State, and that game against Charlotte right after that. We could be talking quite a few more games for sure. But there’s no precise timeline on it.

"We’re just going to wait and see after he gets the brace off. He was not on crutches when I saw him [Thursday]." Informed that Smart had entered TD Garden on crutches again Friday night, Stevens joked, "He’s probably just dragging his leg around me then with that big brace on."

Entering Friday's game against the Wizards, the Celtics owned a defensive rating of 103.7 points per 100 possessions over the three games that Smart had missed. (Boston went 1-2 in those games and needed a fourth-quarter rally to top the winless 76ers in the other.) In the nine games that Smart has appeared in this season, the Celtics own a defensive rating of 95.5 when he's on the floor.

His energy and tenacity are missed on the defensive end.

"The biggest thing is that he gives us a great deal of physicality and a great deal of defensive versatility and awareness," Stevens said. "Obviously he’s a guy that’s not afraid of making big shots or taking big shots and making plays offensively, but he really does a good job of holding down the fort defensively when he’s off the ball. And having an impact on it. So I think we had our most impactful sequence since he’s been out in the last six minutes of that game the other night, on the basketball."

Smart expressed frustration at not being on the court with his teammates, but said his mother, Camellia, offered perspective.

"Some wise words from my mom: It could be much worse. It’s not broken, nothing has to be repaired, just take it slowly." Smart said.

"My attitude is great, just trying to stay positive even though I’m not on the court with those guys," he added. "I'm still try to help those guys out. Just talking to them about the things that I see. I just try to encourage those guys."

Smart's basketball-related activity is otherwise limited to the trainer's room, where he undergoes two-a-day rehab sessions with Boston's medical staff.

"It’s frustrating. You get upset knowing there’s nothing you can do to help those guys, to be a part of that team," Smart said. "But those guys understand what’s going on, and they’re going to keep working and playing their hearts out. All I can do is keep cheering and telling them what I see off the court."