For the first time in weeks after a lengthy battle with a scary infection in both eyes, Marcus Smart was back out on the court for the Boston Celtics on Saturday night.
His return, however, wasn’t enough to lift the Celtics past the defending champions.
The Celtics fell to the Toronto Raptors 113-97 at TD Garden, snapping their five game win streak. Smart finished the night with seven points and three rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench, shooting just 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from the 3-point line.
“It felt great. It felt really good to be out there,” Smart said, via NBC Sports Boston. “My body felt amazing. The shot just didn’t fall. It’s like that, it’s first game back. Not too worried about it. I’m sure they’ll fall next time.”
Smart first contracted a viral eye infection earlier this month, which quickly spread to both eyes and was what Celtics coach Brad Stevens said was one of the worst their team doctors had ever seen. At one point, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said that Smart was quarantined at home simply resting, unable to do anything else.
The 25-year-old was given an initial seven-to-10 day recovery window, though blew right past that and missed nearly three weeks before finally returning on Saturday night.
Being sidelined with an injury involving his eyes like that, Smart said, gave him a bit of a new viewpoint on his basketball career and even life itself.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) December 29, 2019
“I’m blessed,” Smart said, via Mike Petraglia of CLNS. “You never really understood it. You understand what your eyes mean to you, but it’s different when you have to go through something like I did where it’s a possibility that you could’ve lost your eyesight. It kind of puts things back in perspective for you, humble you a little bit.”
Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 30 points on Saturday, shooting 11-of-23 from the field in the loss. Jaylen Brown added 17 points, and Gordon Hayward finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors, dropping 30 points with seven assists. Serge Ibaka added 20 points, and both Fred VanVleet and Patrick McCaw finished with 18. The Raptors never trailed in the contest.
While it was tough to be away from the team for that long, Smart said his teammates were extremely supportive — even if they were grossed out learning the details of his infection.
“They were amazing. They hit me up every day,” Smart said. “We were joking around, I was showing them the picture of what they pulled out my eyes and everybody was just freaked out. I FaceTimed them and showed them how red my eyes were.
“It kind of scared those guys. They didn’t know what was going on. They just thought it was an eye infection, they didn’t know how severe it was. It was scary for everybody.
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