Celtics

Throw out the stat sheet: Feisty Marcus Smart vital to Celtics' success

Throw out the stat sheet: Feisty Marcus Smart vital to Celtics' success

BOSTON – There were six players on the Boston Celtics roster that had more points scored than Marcus Smart on Tuesday.

Five of his teammates logged more minutes. 

And yet as you start to sort through all that went into Boston’s 107-94 Game 2 win against Cleveland, you will be hard-pressed to find any Celtic whose play was more vital to the team’s success than Smart who tallied a near double-double with 11 points and nine assists. 

“Marcus always makes plays at the right time,” said LeBron James. “He has a really uncanny ability to get into the lane and either creates for himself or create for others, and he did that tonight … he’s always been very productive for their ball club.”

Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue echoed similar sentiments about Smart.

“He makes winning plays,” said Lue, a former Celtics assistant coach. “He makes tough plays. Like we said before, if it’s 50/50 balls, he’s going to get it. If it’s a loose ball, offensive rebound they need to have, he’s going to get it. We’ve got to be able to find someone who can match his toughness.”

Good luck, coach. 

Because Smart’s toughness has been difficult to compete with, let alone match by any individual player or team. 

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And he displays that toughness at both ends of the floor, healthy or banged up.

In the second quarter, Smart was favoring his left knee at one point in the middle of a play. Moments later, he came up with a steal, limping at the time, that led to a Celtics lay-up. 

And that doesn’t even include him diving on the floor or into the stands, or standing up for a teammate who believes was being treated unfairly like the two-handed shove by J.R. Smith into Al Horford’s back on a lob attempt.

Smart got in Smith’s face and soon officials and players stepped in to separate the two before both were whistled for technical fouls and Smith’s foul on Horford was upgraded to a flagrant-one. 

“He’s a true competitor,” Brad Stevens said of Smart. “He matches his intensity with a physical toughness. People talk about him all the time. Sometimes they focus on things that don’t matter, and the other times they focus on that he impacts winning. We are really glad he’s on our team.”

From an early age, Smart understood the best way for him to impact the game is bring a heightened level of toughness, regardless of who he’s playing against. 

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So when told about Lue’s comments about needing to find a Cleveland player to match Smart’s toughness, “that’s me,” Smart said and then added, “That’s how I was raised. I’m the youngest of four boys. My whole life I had to fight. I had to get down and do things in order to secure my spot in the household. So coming on to the court, it’s nothing different."

Smart added, “we’re the underdogs. We’re coming in, Cleveland is picked to beat us. We’ve got to come and give energy, extraordinary energy all the time, and I just try to be that spark plug.”

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Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

A story earlier this week from Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes calling burgeoning young Celtics star Jayson Tatum one of the NBA's five most overrated players has expectedly ruffled some feathers in the Boston sports stratosphere. 

But Tatum himself is taking the high road. In a conversation with ESPN's Chris Forsberg centered around his recent workouts with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, the 20-year-old forward, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting this past season, said he wasn't bothered by the article:

While Hughes acknowledged that Tatum could be a franchise player, his reasoning for inclusion on the list was that he could be a victim of the stacked team for which he plays, saying, "Kyrie has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover."

As for the session with Kobe? Tatum clearly absorbed a lot:

Hughes also named Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, Bulls foward Zach LaVine and Suns forward Josh Jackson in the company of overhyped players.

It's been quite a week for Tatum, the former No. 3 overall pick out of Duke University. Earlier in the week, the St. Louis native had his jersey number permanently retired at his high school alma mater.

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Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Even with three All-Stars in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge and the Celtics knew that, in order to win a championship, the team needed a strong supporting cast of role players.

Episode Four of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” takes a look at how Ainge constructed the rest of the roster and how one word, “ubuntu,” set the tone for a memorable season.

Giving the team a shooter off the bench, as well as another veteran presence in the locker room, Eddie House was perfect for the 2008 Celtics.

“I remember going to a practice when he was a young player,” said Ainge regarding House. “Just watching him shoot, and shoot, and just amazed at what a great shooter this kid was.”

“I saw him have his 56 and 60 back-to-back point games in the Pac-10 and it was amazing.”

Long a fan of House, Ainge went out and got his guy, but he wasn’t finished yet.

James Posey, a veteran wing who had experience both starting and coming off the bench, was nearing a deal with the Nets, but one call changed everything.

“I actually told my agent, I’ll just go to New Jersey,” said Posey. “Then Eddie House called me.”

House convinced Posey to spurn the Nets in favor of the Celtics, giving Boston another veteran off the pine.

With the roster taking shape, what the team needed now was an identity.

Ubuntu.

Mentioned to Doc Rivers at a trustee meeting at Marquette University, the word that means “I am who I am because of you,” became the team’s mantra.

“I looked this word up and I spent, no exaggeration, hours and days on this word,” said Rivers. “Everything about the word epitomized what we had to be.”

Ubuntu was the rallying cry of the 2008 Celtics and it all started with a Board of Trustees meeting at Marquette.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.