Smart was 'back home, feeling good' while delivering a big game vs. Mavs

Smart was 'back home, feeling good' while delivering a big game vs. Mavs

Marcus Smart wants to play his best whenever he steps on the floor.

But as we’ve seen from the third-year guard, Smart delivers in a big way when he’s in familiar surroundings such as Oklahoma City (he played at Oklahoma State) and Dallas (he grew up in nearby Flower Mound, Texas).


So it really wasn’t all that surprising that Smart was among the better performers for Boston in their 111-98 win at Dallas on Monday which capped off their four-game West coast trip.

Isaiah Thomas got off to a fast start with 18 of his 29 points coming in the first half.

But for a change, he had some competition for first-half scoring honors with Smart tallying 17 points.

According to NBA statistics guru Dick Lipe, it was the first time since February 22, 2009 that the Celtics had two guards (Ray Allen, 21 points and Rajon Rondo, 22 points against Phoenix) score 17 or more points in the first half of a game.

“It felt good to be in front of my family and friends,” Smart, who finished with 19 points, told reporters after the win. “And things like that and to be back in warm weather. It felt good.”

Smart acknowledged he feels a greater sense of urgency to perform well when surrounded by familiar faces, many of whom were instrumental in his growth and development into being an NBA player.

Last year at Dallas, Smart had 20 points and eight rebounds.

In his third NBA season, Smart has a career 14.2 points per game average against Oklahoma City which is his highest scoring average against any NBA team. And his career average of 6.6 rebounds against the Thunder is also tops among all NBA teams he has faced at least five games.

“I guess that’s the trend,” Smart said. “Whenever in Oklahoma or here, I play well.”

And don’t think it hasn’t been noticed by his teammates.

“Tonight, Marcus was back home, feeling good, knocking down shots,” Thomas said. “Marcus plays like that, more than likely we’re going to win the game.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press