BOSTON -- Marcus Smart was not feeling great prior to Friday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, and it had little to do with his sore oblique injury or the cold that kept him off the floor on Wednesday against Miami.
Smart’s mind was on his late mother Camellia Smart who would have been 65 years old today.
“I think about her all the time,” he told NBC Sports Boston prior to Friday’s 108-95 win over Denver. “All the time.”
Smart, who had nine points on 4-for-5 shooting in Friday’s win, has spent the bulk of his NBA career playing through an array of injuries and ailments, displaying the kind of mental toughness that he credits his mother instilling in him at an early age.
The way he plays is indeed a living testament to the influence his mother had on him, both as a person and as a basketball player.
That’s why all the talk and questions Smart has gotten lately about maybe taking a game off here or there and giving some of the many ailments he has time to heal up, is just chatter.
“If I can play, I want to play,” he said.
And he did just that on Friday against the Nuggets, doing the little things that for years have contributed to some of Boston’s biggest wins.
Near the end of the first quarter, Smart was guarding Gary Harris who tried to attack him off the dribble only for Smart to be in the spot Harris was trying to get to.
That led to Harris losing the ball briefly.
But just as important, it disrupted the Nuggets offense which led to a miss.
And that miss was followed by a Celtics defensive rebound that was soon converted into a lay-up for Jaylen Brown that increased Boston’s lead to 28-18.
In the third quarter, he forced Paul Millsap to turn the ball over which soon led to a 3-pointer by Kemba Walker which increased Boston’s lead to 63-53.
Boston steadily pulled away for the win which extended the Celtics’ home winning streak to nine in a row, and improved their record to 16-5 - only the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks have a better overall record than Boston.
And Smart has certainly been a big part of the team’s success as he once again played a key role despite still having some soreness from his oblique injury.
Of course, Wednesday’s game was just one of 82 on the regular-season docket.
But every win, regardless of the opponent, should be cherished.
Cherishing all victories?
Chalk that up to another lesson taught by Momma Smart.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.