Marcus Smart put on a vintage performance — 9 points scored, probably about 20 points worth of hustle plays — as the Celtics survived a Jaylen Brown injury scare to top the Timberwolves in Minnesota. (More on Brown’s concussion here.)
Had to start the day with all of @smart_MS3 game-winning plays from yesterday. He shot 2-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-4 from deep and still was plus-15 in 33 minutes of play. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/zWRNXbis9N
— Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) March 9, 2018
But it was Smart who inspired the Celtics and catalyzed the win with his signature carnivorous opportunism.
Smart’s night included a thunderous offensive rebound put-back that would be considered first-degree assault in 47 states.
During one sequence in the third quarter, Smart dove headlong to tip a Minnesota pass out of bounds. It was obvious from his proximity to the sideline that Smart was not going to be able to make a steal or retain possession for Boston.
But the tip mattered. Minnesota was forced to inbound with only two seconds on the shot clock. One 24-second-violation later, the Celtics had the ball.
“That’s how I was taught to play,” Smart said. “I’m not really about the accolades. I’m here to win. And if that’s what it’s going to take for my team to win, then I’m going to do it.”
Of course, these are the kind of plays and that is the kind of remark that endear Smart to Boston all the more.
Postgame notes and injury report
Irving was (appropriately) blase about the Celtics clinching a playoff spot. When a reporter pointed this out, Irving sighed, paused, and smiled, “it’s *one* of our goals,” he said. Subtext: Kyrie and these Celtics have bigger fish to fry.
Brown joined the team bus and flight back home as Boston heaved a sign of relief. It’s hard to believe from that fall that his concussion will allow a prompt return when the Celtics play Indiana on Sunday. As LeBron James put it in a tweet, “it was good [just] to see [Brown] walk off” the floor.
Despite an off game, Marcus Smart’s advance shooting stats now a nice, steady, upward arc, as we reported last week.