Celtics-Knicks Instant Overreactions: C's defense steps up without Marcus Smart

Celtics-Knicks Instant Overreactions: C's defense steps up without Marcus Smart

The Boston Celtics overcame the loss of Marcus Smart on Sunday to defeat the New York Knicks, 113-104.

Smart left the game in the third quarter after taking an elbow to the abdomen. The C's outscored the Knicks 32-19 in the fourth.

Here are three instant overreactions from the bittersweet win:

1. The Celtics defense made a statement without Marcus Smart.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

It was not a great showing from the Celtics D in the first half, but they really turned it up when it mattered most in the fourth quarter without Smart. It was a big-time performance from the C's small lineup, but their lackluster effort in the first half plus the recent struggles with perimeter defense still are a concern, especially if Smart is to miss time.

2. Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown/Kemba Walker trio will continue to help offset deficiencies elsewhere.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

It really goes without saying, but when all three of these guys are clicking, the Celtics are as scary as any team in the league. Tatum dropped a game-high 30 on Sunday with a career-high seven assists. Brown added 28 points of his own, and Walker took a back seat but still had 16 points and 10 assists while hitting a few clutch shots.

Even when the C's struggle mightily in other areas, these three have proven they can carry the load and lead the team to victory on any given night. Sure, this one was against the lowly Knicks, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

3. Celtics' performance without Smart shows they'll be OK without him.

Verdict: Overreaction

You didn't need me to tell you that's an overreaction, but it had to be mentioned since Smart's injury was the story of this game.

Yes, the Celtics stepped up in a big way after Smart left. And yes, as I just mentioned, the trio of Tatum/Brown/Walker is more than capable of putting more on their shoulders. But they could hit their first real rough patch if their best defensive player is forced to miss some time.

Although this team already has overcome plenty of adversity with Gordon Hayward's hand injury and Kemba Walker's scary neck injury, Smart's absence would give them whole new set of challenges as our own A. Sherrod Blakely notes.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Heat, which tips off Wednesday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

USA TODAY Sports Images

Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.



Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.


Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.

Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.


The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Anytime is a good time to watch highlights of the greatness that was Larry Bird playing for the Celtics.

But on Larry Legend's 63rd birthday? It's time to break out the best of No. 33...

The fight with Dr. J in 1984:

The 60-point game against the Hawks in '85:

The steal against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in '87:

The "you are watching was greatness is all about" duel with Dominique Wilkins in '88:


Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.