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
Regarding our lock-down defense during the 4Q, Brad Stevens says, “It’s good that we can turn it to that level.”— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 1, 2019
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
Tatum gets the steal + Walker takes it under the rim for two 🎇 pic.twitter.com/0RWful6cuk— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 1, 2019
Kemba brings the game within 2pts with this three 💪 pic.twitter.com/VeYoCbsswm— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 1, 2019
Walker ➡️— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 1, 2019
Brown for the corner three 💦 pic.twitter.com/niMjaSWZBG
Tatum hits the three 👌 pic.twitter.com/QhCeKWSol8— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 1, 2019
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.
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.