BOSTON – The past few weeks have been tough on Marcus Smart, trying to navigate the delicate balancing act between being there for his family following the death of his mother Camilla Smart, while also making sure he’s there for his basketball family.
In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston prior to Boston's 115-112 win over Charlotte, Smart acknowledged he thought long and hard about missing the first couple days of training camp to attend to some family-related matters.
Instead, he decided to start training camp with the Celtics, knowing he would miss some time during camp to take care of some additional family-related matters.
His reasoning for being with the Celtics at the very start of training camp was simple.
“I missed so much time with the guys (this summer),” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “They had played pick-up and everybody was here but me, and I just wanted to get back.”
Before making the decision, Smart said he discussed the matter with his family.
“My family emphasized and encouraged me to get back (to Boston),” Smart said. “Especially with my mom (Camillia Smart); that’s what she would have wanted.”
As his mother Camillia Smart put up a strong, valiant effort in her fight against cancer, there were very few days where Smart wasn’t by her side.
That time with her meant everything to him.
But it also meant time away from working out in preparation for this season.
So for Smart to come into training camp in less-than-ideal condition, would have come as a surprise to no one.
But to his credit, Smart made a point of doing other things to ensure he would not have any significant added weight to his 6-foot-4 frame.
“I’ve been eating right,” he said. “It’s big, especially when you’re not playing and not exerting as much energy. You really have to watch what you eat. That was a really big focus for me this summer. When my mom went to the hospital, that’s where most of my time went; I was with her. I wasn’t doing much on the court, so I had to do more off the court and that was mainly watching what I was eating and just eating right.”
And the result has been Smart coming into training camp at around 220 pounds which Smart says has been pretty close to what he has played at weight-wise, for most of his career.
In his first preseason action on Sunday, Smart showed no signs of being sluggish by doing Smart-like things such as deflecting passes, contesting shots and committing timely fouls that put poor free throw shooters (Bismack Biyombo) on the line.
And in the second quarter, Smart got the ball on the block with a smaller defender on him. Rather than force the action, he drew the defense closer which allowed Jayson Tatum to spring free.
Tatum made the Hornets pay with a 3-pointer (Smart on the assist) that tied the game at 35 as the Celtics.
Later in the quarter, Smart’s pressure defense on Jeremy Lamb led to a Charlotte turnover with Boston ahead 48-43 at that time.
Smart wasn’t flawless, such as the possession in which he lost control of his dribble and turned the ball over.
But in addition to his usual hustle plays, Smart will knock down an occasional 3-pointer, like the one he drained in the second quarter that pushed Boston’s lead to 51-45. For the game, Smart finished with four points in 18 minutes of court time.
Overall, there was plenty for Smart to improve upon going forward.
But him being back on the floor with his family – his basketball family – made Sunday’s game a success regardless of the final score.