Marcus Smart gets lots of attention for what he does defensively for the Boston Celtics.
But on Monday, it was Smart’s scoring off the bench that took center stage early on as the Celtics’ first unit struggle mightily to generate any kind of offense.
Smart had a really good game offensively with 20 points, but his play wasn’t enough as the Celtics could not withstand a barrage of 3s in overtime to Dallas and wound up losing 118-113.
And the points came from a variety of spots on the floor, including Smart posting up Dallas’ guards.
“My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball and I just tried to make the right play with it,” Smart told reporters after the loss.
Smart said he was more aggressive than usual because of the huge deficit (Boston was outscored 17-2 to start the game) the Celtics found themselves knee-deep in just minutes into the game.
“We were struggling to score points. I felt like that was an easy way to get a basket,” said Smart who had 11 of his 20 points in the first quarter which ended with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Smart.
Last week, Smart tallied his first triple-double in the NBA but at least one teammate was more impressed by what he was able to do on Monday against Dallas.
“Believe it or not, I think this is his best game since he came back from injury,” Boston’s Jae Crowder told reporters after Monday’s game. “I know he had the triple-double game (against Phoenix), but this game we needed to score the ball and he came through in the clutch and was very aggressive for us. I think it was his best game coming off the injury.”
But one thing isn’t is the fact that Smart has every intention of continuing to evolve as a scorer for Boston, with posting up players being a more integral part of what he strives to do offensively.
“Definitely,” Smart said. “Getting back healthier, attacking the basketball more and using my size to my advantage.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday night’s game.
Nowitzki has lit of many teams during his Hall of Fame career, but his best scoring tends to come against the Celtics. Once again, Boston had no answer for the 7-foot big man most of the night as he finished with a game-high 31 points along with 11 rebounds.
After a rocky first half of the season, Smart got the second half off to a solid start on Monday with a near double-double off the bench, scoring 20 points to go along with eight rebounds which included 11 first-quarter points which helped keep the Celtics from being totally blown out after missing 14 of their first 15 shots from the field.
He didn’t do much for most of the game, but came alive in the overtime period with a barrage of 3-pointers. The former all-star tallied 20 points with 10 coming in the decisive overtime period. He also had six assists and grabbed five rebounds.
It was a strong game for Olynyk off the bench, finishing with 17 points and five rebounds including a couple of late 3s that kept the Celtics within striking distance down the stretch.
His work around the rim was critical to Dallas’ victory. While he only scored five points Pachulia led all players with 19 rebounds.
This was not one of Thomas’ better games, but it was the kind of game that an All-Star caliber player will deliver on a night when truth be told, things for the most part aren’t going your way early on. After being held to just two points in the first half, Thomas erupted for 18 second-half points. For the game, Thomas had 20 points and seven assists.
It wasn’t quite the homecoming Crowder was hoping for when he returned to Dallas, the team that drafted him and the one that he spent his first two-plus seasons playing for. While Crowder hit three consecutive free throws with 6.7 seconds to play that tied the game and forced overtime, it was an underwhelming performance for Crowder who finished with 12 points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Boston’s 3-point defense
Dallas has a bevy of shooters and the Celtics allowed them to get into a nice rhythm in the first half. By the time Boston started to defend them better, it was too late. Dallas wasn’t about to cool off as they connected on 16 3-pointers which was the most that Boston has allowed this season.
He never made an impact at either end of the floor, something that we have not had to say about his play this month. That’s why head coach Brad Stevens leaned so heavily on Kelly Olynyk for most of the game. Johnson played less than 14 minutes, scoring just three points and grabbing two rebounds. More telling was the fact that despite playing so few minutes Johnson still had a team-worst plus/minus of -19.