At ill mother's behest, Celtics' Marcus Smart targets return from thumb surgery

BOSTON -- Celtics guard Marcus Smart said his 63-year-old mother has been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer but that she implored him to rejoin the team for the start of the playoffs in hopes that she can watch Smart play again this season.

Smart said his mother, Camellia, revealed her diagnosis when Smart visited her in Dallas last week. Smart is currently rehabbing from thumb surgery but has said he's targeting his return for a potential Game 7 in the team's first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. That game, if necessary, would be played on April 28.

Smart's older brother, Todd, lost a long battle with cancer at the age of 33 in 2004, when Smart was just 9 years old.

Smart said he does not believe a bone marrow transplant is a possibility for his mother, but he said, "She's a fighter," and, "We're trying to see what can work right now."

Smart said that his mother being surrounded by family made it easier to return to Boston to watch his team open the playoffs against the Bucks.

"She told me she'd rather I was here than back there, doing what I love to do, because she loves to watch me play, because that would put a smile on her face, if I got back healthy and back on the court," Smart said before Tuesday's Game 2 at TD Garden.

Smart's YounGameChanger Foundation strives to help young cancer patients, and Smart often visits local hospitals to meet with patients.

Smart said he's trying to balance being around the team while waiting to find out more about treatment options for his mother.

"You want to be here. I love playing basketball," Smart said. "A lot of my friends and family were telling me that basketball is my eye of the storm, where I'm the most calm, where I can think and release all that pressure. But it is hard to leave her, knowing the situation. But my family members are all there, and she has everyone around her."

Smart said he planned to travel home to visit his mother again soon, pending the results of a checkup she had Tuesday.