Marcus Smart had one of his biggest games of the season last night when the Celtics desperately needed it against the Portland Trail Blazers. Smart notched 18 points on 61.5% shooting (8-13) and matched a career high with 5 steals on the second night of a Celtics back-to-back on their current West coast road trip. The C's were still missing starting shooting-guard Avery Bradley and last night starting small-forward Jae Crowder was out (family issue) so Smart, usually the 6th man, was thrust into the starting lineup. Although the Celtics got off to a rough start, they found their way to a 120-111 win in large part due to Smart and his stellar play on both ends of the floor:
Marcus Smart tied his career high in steals AGAIN tonight with five, all while scoring 18 points, grabbing six boards and dishing five asts.— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) February 10, 2017
The Celtics trailed by as much as 17 but battled back and found themselves up one heading into the 4th - a quarter in which they exploded for 43 points to put the Blazers away. Isaiah Thomas sprinkled some of his usual late-game magic scoring 13 in the final frame, but anybody who watched would agree that Smart was certainly the catalyst for the win.
There was a stretch late in the 4th where Smart stole the ball and set up a fast-break to get Jaylen Brown to the free-throw line, followed by another C's defensive stop that led to Smart snatching an offensive rebound off an Al Horford miss and putting it back, and then coming back again on the defensive end and drawing a charge leading to more points on the other end for Boston. The Celtics started that sequence up two points and when it was all said and done the led by 10 - ultimately putting the game away for good.
Smarts efforts are not lost on Isaiah, as he understands just how valuable having a bulldog like Marcus is for the Celtics:
Isaiah on Marcus Smart: "When you want to be a championship team, you have to have guys like that on the team."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 10, 2017
Really quietly, Marcus Smart might be… the Draymond of the Celtics. https://t.co/CQ24go59r8— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 10, 2017
Marcus Smart might not quite be Draymond Green just yet, but he's only in his 3rd NBA season and he's trending in the right direction. The plays that both those guys make on regular basis don't always show up the stat sheet or the highlights, but when the game is on the line a lot of times they make all the difference in wins and losses:
Marcus on signature Marcus plays: "Those are momentum plays that just kill the other team and make them put their head down."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 10, 2017
Game-winning plays. Marcus Smart is full of em.
Photo Credit - Celtics.com
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Mark Allison 2/10/2017 01:00:00 PM Tweet Edit