Celtics Marcus Smart - an absolute gem of a game vs. Pacers

We already knew that Marcus Smart can fill up a stat sheet, but he really got our attention last night when he led his team in eight categories. Marcus had 20 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in 34 minutes of play, all team highs. He also led the team in three-point percentage at 50% (6-of-12) and tied with three other teammates with 100% on free throws.

His game-high Player Impact Estimate (PIE) was 19.9, close to double that of an average player (10%) and even well above second-place guy on the team, Jayson Tatum at 12.7. Smart's PIE even topped that of Victor Oladipo's 16.2, with Victor playing one hell of a game.

Despite the 99/97 loss to the Pacers, Marcus' nearly-flawless offensive game could not have been timed better. The Celtics came into the game short-handed, and Kyrie Irving was forced to play only 15 minutes because of knee soreness. Here is NBA's Taylor Snow with comments on the game:

The C's, who were already without Jaylen Brown (concussion) and Al Horford (illness) from the start of the game, were dealt a third blow to their starting rotation at halftime when Kyrie Irving was ruled out for the remainder of the contest because of left knee soreness.

"I'm just trying to do everything I can to help my team win," Smart stated after the game. "Whatever that is, I'm going to do it. If I need to play defense - every night I'm on somebody's star guy - I'm going to do that. If I need to go out there and score the ball, I'm going to go out there and score the ball."

And score the ball, he did. Smart knocked down a season-high-tying six 3-pointers on 12 attempts, while also swishing both of his free-throw attempts. His play during crunch-time was particularly impressive, as he made or assisted on every Celtics field goal during the last eight minutes of regulation.

I recently wrote about the interesting potential playoff seedings in the Eastern Conference. Boston retains a reasonably strong hold on second place, and Cleveland has dropped into the fourth slot. With player injuries building up, the back-ups, including Marcus Smart, will need to step in. With little to lose, it may be time to rest the troops a bit. If the Pacers game was any indication, Smart seems ready for the challenge.

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Photo via Michael Dwyer/AP Photo