Smart proves why he is important to Celtics’ success in Game 5 win initially appeared on NBC Sports Boston
BOSTON — Every as soon as in some time, Marcus Smart reminds us that he is nonetheless the Celtics’ emotional chief.
That reminder got here simply 17 seconds into Game 5 on Thursday evening.
On the Miami Heat’s opening possession, Smart stripped a driving Bam Adebayo, dove headfirst to safe the unfastened ball and shoveled a go to Jayson Tatum, who went coast-to-coast for a layup to ignite the TD Garden crowd.
Smart’s hustle play set the tone for the Celtics, who jumped out to a 15-point first-quarter lead and by no means regarded again in a 110-97 victory. After trailing 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the C’s have rallied to win two straight and put critical stress on the Heat getting into Game 6 in Miami on Saturday evening.
Derrick White (a team-high 24 factors) and Tatum (21 factors and a season-high 11 assists) each performed key roles in Boston’s Game 5 victory. But Smart was the engine that drove the Celtics on each ends.
Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: Celtics turn into solely fifteenth NBA workforce to pressure Game 6 when down 3-0 | Listen & Subscribe
“Smart was just a beast tonight,” Jaylen Brown stated after the sport. “I don’t know what game you guys were watching, but Marcus on both sides of the ball was incredible tonight. It was a great performance from him.”
While the Celtics are used to the 2023 NBA Hustle Award winner bringing the trouble, Smart raised his offensive recreation Thursday, matching his 2023 playoff excessive with 24 factors on 7 of 12 taking pictures. He and White mixed to hit 10 3-pointers, a lethal recipe for opponents loading as much as cease Tatum and Brown.
(*5*) Tatum stated. “Those two guys, their ability to hit shots tonight, spread out the defense, and then make plays on the defensive end — we fed off their energy tonight.”
The Celtics wanted an vitality increase after an embarrassing Game 3 loss in Miami that created what seemed to be an insurmountable deficit for Boston. But after the C’s rallied to win Game 4, Smart made positive to set the tone in Game 5, and his workforce responded by out-hustling a Heat workforce constructed on hustle.
Boston topped Miami in primarily each hustle stat Thursday, from factors off turnovers (27 to 19) to second-chance factors (17 to 7) to steals (13 to 6).
“He’s just an emotional key for us,” head coach Joe Mazzulla added of Smart. “When he’s locked in and playing both sides of the ball at a different pace, it kind of gives us our identity and our life.”