BOSTON – Marcus Smart doesn’t shoot the ball well from the field.
And when you throw in the fact that he hadn’t played in a regular season game all season, well you can imagine his shooting struggles would be magnified more than usual.
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But the thing about Smart during his time with the Boston Celtics is that as much as he may struggle, he does from time to time deliver when a big shot is needed.
That was indeed the case during his regular season debut on Wednesday when he scored on a swooping hook shot with 25.2 seconds to play that essentially sealed a hard-fought, 107-100 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Smart finished with seven points, but missed six of his eight field goal attempts.
But he made the one that really mattered.
“It kind of just happened,” said Smart who returned after suffering a sprained ankle injury in the preseason finale on October 19. “I was supposed to get the ball right to Isaiah (Thomas), but he was getting double (teamed) so I just made a play.”
It would be one of several plays made by Smart who had five assists off the bench in addition to grabbing five rebounds.
Indeed, Smart contributed in several categories – mostly good but not all.
There were his six turnovers which represented half of Boston’s overall team total.
Still, head coach Brad Stevens was pleased overall in what Smart brought to the floor in his first game of the season.
“I thought Marcus had a good first game back,” Stevens said.
And while the plan initially was to have Smart’s minutes close to what they’ve been in the past (low-to-mid 20s), Jae Crowder’s injury forced Boston to play Smart just under 34 minutes.
Welcome back, young fella!
“To be honest my lungs are on fire,” Smart said. “But it felt good being the first game back and being able to come out with a victory is always a good thing.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game.
It was a career night shooting the ball for Johnson who hit all four of his 3-point attempts - a career-high for 3-point makes and takes for Johnson – as part of a season-high 23-point night. Johnson also had five rebounds and an assist.
Thomas was once again leading the charge down the stretch for Boston while finishing with a double-double of 23 points and 10 assists along with three steals and a blocked shot.
He has had plenty of better-shooting games than Wednesday, but Butler was huge for the Bulls down the stretch as he scored 11 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter.
He missed a couple of huge free throws in the game’s final minute, but still had a nice game with 17 points on 3-for-6 shooting.
The most decorated player on the floor, Wade was a non-factor when it mattered most for the Bulls. A lot of that had to do with the defense played by Avery Bradley and the Celtics as a team. Wade still managed to score 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting with four assists.