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Marcus Smart targets a return after the All-Star break

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The Celtics defense will need to hang tough for a few more weeks without their All-Defense guard.

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Celtics defensive stalwart Marcus Smart won’t likely see the court until the second half of the season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shared the news just before tipoff against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday afternoon,

The list of ways that Smart’s play helps the Celtics, especially this season in which his improved shot selection and excellent passing have buoyed his offensive performance, is long. Boston sits just under .500 without him in the last eleven games.

If there’s any silver lining to Smart’s absence, it’s pressure on both Kemba Walker and Celtics rookie Aaron Nesmith to perform. Walker, still working his way back into form, is showing strong signs of regaining his side. Nesmith, who looked lost early in the season, has been using his length and energy to get involved on the defensive end while earning extra minutes.