Before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters “Obviously, we’re better with Marcus Smart. I don’t think that’s debatable.”
Smart isn’t among Boston’s Top 5 players, but he’s the glue guy that sets the tone and provides inspiration for his more talented teammates. Smart had been sidelined since March 11 when he tore the UCL in his right thumb while diving for a loose ball. He flew to New York on Monday and was cleared by his doctor to engage in contact activities. His arrival was right on time.
Young guns Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have seized their moment on the big stage and proved that they can be All-stars.
Subscribe, Like & Comment for More! ——— Follow our Instagram: https://goo.gl/Syw81B Follow our Twitter: https://goo.gl/5aata7
That hasn’t masked the fact that Smarts toughness, veteran leadership, and intangibles were missing. Smart returned on Tuesday night and provided the late-game grit, hustle, and physicality that Boston needed to secure a 92-87 victory over Greek Freaks Bucks and take a 3-2 series lead. Giannis was feasting on Boston averaging 27.8 points per game over the first four games of the series. Last night, he had a series-low 16 points with Smart back in effect.
In 25 minutes of action, Smart had 9 points, 5 boards and four assists, the biggest one coming in the closing seconds while being smothered and abused by defenders. He manages to find Al Horford with a pass for a wide-open layup under the basket.
Everyone’s on the floor while Marcus Smart is dishing assists #RingerNBA https://t.co/A5W3mKzaGp
The Celtics were hanging with Milwaukee, but lacking that playoff edge and closer mentality in certain spots. Smart is the kind of go-hard that adds some parmesan to the spaghetti. Hes constantly jawing and engaging in physical situations which throws the offensive balance of the opponent off and wears them down or frustrated them to death by the fourth quarter.
Boston may survive this round. Win or lose, when Kyrie and Gordon Hayward return next season, the Celtics will have gotten their newbies some valuable playoff experience and in the meantime, the NBA world is getting a chance to see how Smarts work in the trenches holds great value and can be the difference for a winning team.