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Hawks notebook

Injured Smith eyeing Game 4

Forward hopeful he’ll play in Game 4

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 5, 2012
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After sounding more positive about his injured left knee on Thursday, Josh Smith got to test it out at Friday morning’s shootaround at Suffolk University. And the results weren’t good.

Therefore, the Hawks were without Smith for Game 3 against the Celtics at TD Garden. Smith did say that if his knee improves the way it did between Games 2 and 3, there’s a chance he could play Sunday in Game 4.

“I felt pretty good until I started exploding up to the basket,’’ Smith said. “That’s where the pain really starts to generate, when I become explosive with it. But as far as running and cutting and everything else, it feels OK.’’

Smith suffered the injury when he banged into Kevin Garnett in Game 2. The Hawks had originally announced that it was a strained tendon, but Smith referred to it on Friday as tendinitis or “jumper’s knee.’’

“I don’t want to risk a domino effect, it being something more than what it is,’’ Smith said. “The first day I was limping, but now I’m walking close to normal. It started to feel a little bit better.’’

With the loss of Smith, the Hawks were without three big men - centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia being the others - and had to move Marvin Williams into the starting power forward spot. They didn’t, however, switch their defense on Paul Pierce, with Joe Johnson continuing to guard him.

“This is one of the biggest games of the season, possibly the series,’’ Smith said. “Definitely is frustrating that you can’t be out there helping your teammates win.’’

Smith was able to “move around’’ at shootaround, according to Larry Drew, but the coach said he was noticeably limping and it was obvious that Smith was experiencing discomfort.

“Certainly it’s an uphill battle, but it’s a challenge for our team, and I have all the confidence in the world these guys will step up to the challenge,’’ Drew said.

Sprain for McGrady

Tracy McGrady made it back onto the court in the second half after spraining his right ankle when he came down on Rajon Rondo’s foot after going up for a 3-pointer in the first half, though he wasn’t quite the same. “I know it’s going to be sore tomorrow,’’ McGrady said. “It affected my shot. I really couldn’t get the lift like I wanted to. I was hesitant on cutting. It affected me a little bit.’’ McGrady said he would just need treatment, and that he should be fine for Game 4. He had 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds in 41 minutes off the bench . . . Drew was pleased with the play of Erick Dampier, who got his first minutes of the series because of the Hawks’ lack of big men. “This is just a situation where I really needed another big body,’’ said Drew. “And he came in and I thought gave us some really good minutes.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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