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Marcus Smart plans to play vs. Nuggets and more encouraging Gordon Hayward news

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It looks like it will only be a one-game absence for Smart, while Hayward seems to be ahead of schedule in his return.

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Though Marcus Smart is dealing with a litany of ailments, most recently an oblique contusion suffered Sunday against the New York Knicks along with an illness he has been fighting, it won’t take him away from the court for long.

After missing Wednesday’s contest versus the Miami Heat, which is the only game Smart has missed this season, he is expected to be back in action for Friday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets.

“I plan to play tonight,” Smart told the gathered media at this morning’s shootaround.

Smart added: “The oblique injury is feeling a lot better. Still sore, but the soreness is at a lower level. It really hasn't stopped me with my movements.”

Smart also doesn't plan on easing himself back into action when the C’s take on the Nuggets. Smart, who has guarded a plethora of big men across the NBA this season, could add another to the list as he anticipates getting at least an opportunity to guard Denver’s talented Nikola Jokic.

On the Gordon Hayward injury front, it appears Hayward is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken left hand sustained on Nov. 9 against the San Antonio Spurs, which he had surgically repaired just days later.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters that there’s a roughly 80 percent chance Hayward makes his return prior to the original targeted mark of Christmas. Hayward is expected to practice with the team this weekend as he has gone through drills against coaches, but has yet to do anything fully live.

Looks like the Hospital Celtics are well on the mend.