Blakely: Smart went above and beyond in Bradley's absence

Blakely: Smart went above and beyond in Bradley's absence

BOSTON -- We have seen Marcus Smart play the role as a fill-in at the point, small forward and on Saturday night he was inserted into the starting lineup for shooting guard Avery Bradley (right Achilles soreness).

Whatever the position, Smart tends to step up to the moment and keep things moving along.

But Saturday night was different.

The third-year guard did more than just fill in for Bradley.

He filled up the stat sheet, on the TD Garden floor which has been a house of horrors for him this season.

And Smart’s play was one of the keys to Boston continuing to rack up the wins at home, this time being a 117-108 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 6-foot-4 Smart had a season-high 22 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting night which included him making five of his seven 3-point attempts.

Let me repeat that.

Smart took seven 3’s and wound up making five of them, also a season high.

In addition to fighting off the Pelicans, Smart said battling Mother Nature who blanketed New England with several inches of snow on Saturday, was also part of the challenge he and his Celtics teammates faced.

“It’s a tough game,” Smart said. “It’s snowing outside. The weather got everybody kind of in a lazy mood and we had to bring our own energy tonight. The crowd woke up and they got us into it. I just knew, with that being said, we need to come out early.”

And Smart did just that, leading all Celtics in scoring in the first quarter with nine points on 3-for-3 shooting, along with dishing out three assists in the first to go with two steals and a blocked shot.

While Smart’s play on Saturday stood out in part because Bradley wasn’t around, it was the kind of performance that we’re seeing more of from him regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“He’s been unbelievable,” said Boston’s Kelly Olynyk. “His maneuvering of the pick-and-roll has been unbelievable the last month for sure.”

But to speak of Smart’s growth in terms of how he handles pick-and-rolls now, or shoots from 3-point range, or even defends at a high level, doesn’t address what makes Smart so special.

He makes an impact.


“He has things you can’t teach,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he has the full package, he’s a tough guard to handle. When he plays like that, I bet we win 100 percent of the time. He puts so much pressure on the defense when he’s hitting the shots. And on the defensive end, he’s a monster at that end.”

A monster that’s growing up before our very eyes into a player whose ability to play at a high level offensively and defensively, seems to be getting better and more consistent with time.

“He’s made huge strides … that’s what we need from him,” Olynyk said.

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum dropped 23 points, snatched 11 rebounds and Boston’s injury-riddled roster squeaked out a 100-99 upset win over Oklahoma City.

It was a good game for Tatum, but teammate Marcus Morris wasn’t moved one bit by Tatum’s historical performance.

“Now it’s not. … I’m not even impressed no more,” Morris said. “It’s to the point where I know what he’s going to bring, I know what he’s capable of. So it’s more like, I expect that now just being around, watching him play day-in and day-out, practicing with him.”

Teammates agree that the 20-year-old Tatum is growing up right before our eyes.

“With Jaylen and Kyrie being out, he’s looking to be more aggressive,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Everybody is going to talk about offense, but on the defensive end he didn’t have an easy matchup, going against Paul George. I felt like he did a great job.”

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 100-99 comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Boston’s second unit is still getting the job done even as injuries rob it of its core group that includes Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier who are now both starters. The Celtics’ new-look second unit was still impactful in Boston’s 100-99 squeaker past the Oklahoma City Thunder. Against the Thunder, Boston’s bench outscored Oklahoma City 35-10.


The big man continues to come up big for the Boston Celtics off the bench. Injuries have forced other key reserves into the starting lineup which has led to Monroe becoming an even bigger focal point offensively when he’s on the floor. Against the Thunder, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds.


You never really know what you’re going to get from the Boston Celtics when it comes to rebounding the basketball. Well, Tuesdaynight was the good rebounding Celtics whose ability to control the glass was a huge factor in the victory as Boston out-rebounded Oklahoma City 52-44.


Remember how Marcus Smart would struggle to make shots, and still play major minutes and still make a meaningful impact? Well, Semi Ojeleye had that kind of game for the Celtics. The 6-foot-6 rookie missed all six of his field goal attempts, but showed some serious versatility against the Thunder with defensive stints on each of Oklahoma City’s Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.


Marcus Morris made the game-winner and Jayson Tatum was as strong on the floor as we’ve ever seen him. But arguably the biggest X-factor in Boston’s win was the play of Larkin. His ability to control the flow of the game, getting his teammates in and out of sets was critical to the win, as was his offense. For the game, Larking had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field.

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

File Photo

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win.