BOSTON -- It was the kind of thing that you seldom, if ever see with the Boston Celtics.
For much of the first half of Monday's game against Brooklyn, it was Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes carrying the team with their ... offense?
Baynes led all scorers off the Celtics bench at the half against Brooklyn with 14 points that included a pair of 3-pointers, while Smart led all Celtics scorers with 16 points which included not one, not two, not three … but four 3-pointers on just six attempts.
“Those are our splash brothers,” quipped Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, a humorous reference to Golden State's Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Baynes and Smart's shot-making early on helped set the tone offensively against the Nets as the Celtics bounced back from a heartbreaking Saturday night loss to Golden State, with a 112-104 win over the Nets.
Baynes and Smart were two of the six double-figure scorers for Boston (31-19) as they tallied 16 and 21 points, respectively.
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Smart, who suffered a cut above his right eye in the second quarter that required two stitches to close, has shown significant improvement in his long-range shooting. He’s currently shooting a career-high 36.5 percent from 3-point range this season.
But that growth is even more on display against the Nets, whose bench has shown a knack for woofing at Smart to shoot more.
“Unfortunately for them, their bench kept talking again, same outcome,” said Smart who was 4-for-10 from 3-point range on Monday after going 4-for-8 on 3's against the Nets in Boston’s 116-95 win at the TD Garden on Jan. 7. “Same thing, ‘keep shooting’ … I just had to go out there keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Said Stevens: “Every time Marcus lets it go you feel good about it.”
The same holds true for Baynes who is shooting 32.6 percent from 3-point range, which is also a career-high.
While Baynes may have led the NBA in defensive rating last season - and is poised to do so again this season - Stevens talks about how Baynes has put in significant time to improve his 3-point shooting.
“Baynes probably puts up as many attempts in practice as anybody on our team so it’s good to see those go down,” Stevens said.
Baynes acknowledged that becoming more of a three-point threat is a part of his game that he has worked a lot on lately.
“I do not think it is the main thing but I definitely have the confidence here,” Baynes said. “It is good when everybody has the confidence in you to go and knock that shot (down) starting from the coaches and every player as well.”
And for their teammates, seeing both players show that they’re more than just standout defenders is good for all involved.
“It’s nice to see them get rewarded on the offensive end,” said Al Horford. “They work really hard on defense, sacrificing their body all the time. I know Baynes and Smart, they both work extremely hard shooting the ball and being in those positions and tonight was one of those nights where we needed everyone.”
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