BOSTON – Lost in the euphoria and excitement of Isaiah Thomas’ career-high 52 points on Friday was the fact that the Boston Celtics were playing without the one constant in their starting lineup – Avery Bradley.
The 6-foot-2 guard did not play (sick) in Boston’s 117-114 win over the Miami Heat, his first missed game this season.
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Replacing him in the starting lineup was Marcus Smart whose defense was decent, but he didn’t come anywhere close to generating the 18 points per game that the Celtics usually get from Bradley.
But Smart’s game has never really been about eye-popping stats.
That said, he went into what was his 10th start of the season with one thing in mind – helping the Celtics come away with a victory.
“I just do me and what I can, control what I can control,” Smart, who had six points, told CSNNE.com.
While he missed six of his seven shots from the field, Smart still finished with a plus/minus of +11 which was the second-best among all players for both teams.
Head coach Brad Stevens has often referred to Smart as the team’s sixth starter, a player who logs starter-like minutes (he's fifth on the team with 29.5 minutes played per game) because he does so many things that contribute to winning even if his final line in the game statistics might suggest otherwise.
That’s why Smart was among those pleased Friday night, not only for Thomas and his unprecedented scoring night – no Celtics guard has scored that many points in a game before – but even more significant that the night ended with a Celtics victory.
“That’s great,” Smart said of the win which improved Boston’s record to 20-14 on the season. “That’s good for our confidence, especially missing Avery Bradley tonight. That’s big for us.”