Stars, studs and duds: Marcus Smart powers C's with well-rounded performance

Stars, studs and duds: Marcus Smart powers C's with well-rounded performance

BOSTON –  During one sequence in the fourth quarter, Marcus Smart went head-first, WWF-style for an almost-loose ball that was in the hands of Nik Stauskas briefly.

It didn’t take long before the ball wound up in Smart’s hands. 

“Once I saw that, I started taking off running,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder who was on the receiving end of a Smart pass out of that play, for a lay-up. “He made a hell of a pass to me. Even more of a hell of a play to dive on Stauskas and take the ball from him.”

That was just one of the many hustle plays made by Smart, a prominent figure in Boston’s 116-108 win. 

In addition to scoring 21 points, Smart also had a career-high eight steals.

The play on Stauskas speaks to kind of effort plays that Smart brings to the table, and has made him a player that is on the radar of most teams even before he became a Celtic. 

“When the draft was going on we played a lot of attention to Marcus Smart,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “There’s a toughness about him that you can’t help but respect.”

And while that toughness has been on display most of his time in Boston, what we’re starting to see more from him is a refined game offensively with better shot selection particularly from 3-point range. 

“The last couple of weeks has been some of his best basketball,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And we needed it. We’re down a couple of bodies, and he is playing at a high level on both ends of the floor.”

Smart believes he has taken that next step with his game as a whole.

“I’ve been really trying to elevate my game, especially going into the second half trying to keep the momentum alive,” he said. 

And its plays like the Stauskas play which looked more like a football strip-sack, that reminds us all how impactful he can be.

“I saw the ball, and went after the ball,” Smart said about the play. “He just happened to be in the way of it.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game. 


Isaiah Thomas: You know you are ballin’ when you can drop 33 points, and it not be that big a deal. Not just that, but Thomas has now scored at least 20 points in 40 consecutive games which ties the franchise record set by John Havlicek. 

Marcus Smart: This was one of Smart’s better all-around games this season, delivering in just about every statistical category. He finished with 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting to go with five rebounds, five assists and a career-high eight steals and a blocked shot. And like most of his teammates, unfortunately he also had a high number of turnovers (six) as well. 

Dario Saric: The Sixers have high hopes for Saric’s future in the NBA, and for good reason. The dude can play really well around the basket as well as in the role of a stretch big. He had a double-double off the Sixers bench with a team-high 20 points and 11 rebounds.


Robert Covington: He was playing well most of the game for the Sixers, finishing with 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting with nine rebounds and three steals. However, his night was cut short due to a head contusion.

Jae Crowder: He did a great job of setting the tone for the Celtics, scoring 11 of his 18 points in the first quarter to go with five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

T.J. McConnell: Very efficient playmaker, he continues to give the Sixers solid production from the point guard position. He had 12 points and eight assists in addition to five steals.

Nerlens Noel: The Everett-native did a lot of good things statistically, and had a presence around the basket as a rim-protector. He finished with 16 points and six rebounds along with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Kelly Olynyk: Boston has been getting great, steady production of late from Olynyk who turned in another strong performance. He led all Celtics reserves with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting in addition to grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. 


Celtics turnovers: While this is certainly one of the Sixers’ strengths defensively, the Celtics have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, regardless of how good an opponent may be in this particular area of play. Boston committed a season-high 24 turnovers which led to 34 points for the Sixers.

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST  - Smart's importance to C's, dissecting the East

Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter. 


Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics snap skid with dominant win over Magic, 92-83

The Orlando Magic are one of the few teams already eliminated from playoff contention. 

And on Friday, it didn’t take long to see why.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST - Smart's importance, dissecting the Eastern Conference

The Boston Celtics didn’t waste any time taking control of the game and never letting up as they cruised to a 92-83 win.

Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe led the Celtics with 17 points each and Shelvin Mack had 16 points and seven rebounds for Orlando.  

With the win, the Celtics (47-22) snapped a two-game losing skid and improved their record since returning from the All-Star break to 7-3. 

Getting back on a winning track was just part of Boston’s motivation heading into Friday night’s game. 

With several key players out with injuries, the Celtics’ depth was once again on display from the opening tip to the final horn. 

In the first half, reserve guard Shane Larkin led the team in scoring with 10 points. 

And in the third quarter, backup center Greg Monroe was too much for the Magic to handle around the basket.

In the third, Monroe scored 10 of his 17 points off Boston’s bench. 

This was a game that the Celtics showed few signs of the kind of let-up we have seen them display against bad teams from time to time. 

But Orlando opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run that cut Boston’s lead down to 77-61 with 9:18 to play. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out. 

Orlando was able to chip away a little more at Boston’s lead which peaked at 24 points but was down to single digits in the fourth which provided a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe, the Magic could get back in the game.

But when it mattered, Boston made the plays in the game’s closing moments to secure the victory. 

For the Celtics, the goal on Friday night was two-fold: find a way to win and come away healthy. 

Boston found success on both fronts, a refreshing change the Celtics hope to do more of going forward. 

Marcus Smart underwent surgery on his right thumb earlier in the day, which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks which would put his return to the floor at the earliest, sometime near the end of the first round of the playoffs or early into the second. 

Daniel Theis underwent season-ending surgery recently for a meniscus tear in his left knee.

And Boston played without Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness), but he might back in the lineup for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

Al Horford returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to an illness, and he didn’t disappoint in finishing with a near double-double of 15 point and nine rebounds.