Josh Smith says he’ll play in Sunday’s Game 4 vs. Celtics

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Atlanta fared surprisingly well in Game 3 without Josh Smith, losing a closer-than-expected contest to a Celtics team that saw both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen return to the lineup.

The Hawks won’t have to go without him again in Game 4, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com:

Josh Smith acknowledges the left knee sprain that kept him out of Game 3 is still bothersome.

That pain, he says, won’t prevent him from playing in Game 4 on Sunday.

“It’s still a little pain in there, but I understand the importance of this game,” Smith told CSNNE.com. “You can’t play injured, but you can play a little hurt.”

Smith won’t practice on Saturday, and will test the knee at shootaround on Sunday. But he clearly feels it’s a pain management issue at this point, and if that’s the case, expect him to be back in the lineup for Game 4.

Even a little Smith for the Hawks should help them immensely. They got next to nothing from their frontcourt players in Game 3, yet behind big games from Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague, along with a solid all-around 40-plus minutes from Tracy McGrady, Atlanta was able to hang tough and take things to overtime before eventually falling to Boston.

Expect everything the Hawks have on Sunday to avoid going down three games to one to Boston. We’ll see if whatever Smith is able to provide will be enough to even the series.