WALTHAM, Mass. – We have seen Marcus Smart’s emotions get the best of him, sometimes to the detriment of both him and the Celtics.
But as his temper was on the cusp of boiling over, Smart did the seemingly unthinkable by a player this time of year – he asked out of the game.
“I decided to take myself out; things were going wrong,” Smart said after Monday’s practice. “I was making a couple of mistakes and everybody else was playing good. So, I decided to take myself out, let those guys keep going and calm myself down.”
Smart was on the floor to start the fourth quarter which began with the Celtics ahead, 95-80.
In an 11-second span, Smart turned the ball over and committed back-to-back personal fouls.
He would return to the floor at the 9:43 mark, which was 40 seconds after he took himself out.
Things continued to spiral out of control for Smart who picked up his fourth personal foul on a Bojan Bogdanovic 3-pointer that became a four-point play which cut Boston’s lead to 99-95.
Smart left with 7:08 to play and did not return.
“I know I can’t make those mistakes,” Smart said. “Just wanted to take myself out, get myself together and cheer my team on. Those dudes were rolling and keeping it going. I didn’t want to mess up the groove. Just wanted to re-gather myself and get ready when Brad calls me back in.”
Smart said it wasn’t the first time he took himself out of a game.
“I know myself,” Smart said. “It’s better to just come out, get you a quick breather, gather yourself than to keep in there and keep getting frustrated and make the same mistakes.”
But that doesn’t take away from the unusual nature of his decision, one that’s even more surprising when you consider the parity that exists on this Celtics roster.
“Some people probably think it was a little selfish of me, to think I was mad at myself but it really wasn’t,” Smart said. “I just felt like at that moment, we were up and my plays with the two turnovers, back-to-back and fouling the three-point shooter, something we all know you’re not supposed to do and he gets the and-one and they get a rhythm.
Smart added, “I just felt that at that time and for the team, I wasn’t doing anything to help.”
When he left the game early in the fourth, Terry Rozier replaced him. When Rozier struggled to defend the taller Bogdanovic, Stevens called upon Jaylen Brown, who did a solid job defensively in addition to knocking down a few shots.
Brown played the final 6:09 and held Bogdanovic scoreless.