Marcus Smart’s tendency to produce winning plays and be in the center of crucial moments continued Friday night in the Celtics’ 109-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks at TD Garden.
Smart started at point guard in place of Kemba Walker, who missed the game with the flu, and he came through on a pair of plays in the final minute to help the Celtics eke out the win.
With the Celtics leading 105-104 with 43 seconds left, Smart came off a screen from Daniel Theis and buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it a two-possession game.
?SMART ? pic.twitter.com/PyUbydys6R
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 4, 2020
He proceeded with some trash-talking directed toward the Hawks bench.
“I was just trying to get a quick one,” Smart said. “And of course they had been going at me the whole game and I knew they would, and the initial play wasn’t there. I just made a read and they left me open, and I took the shot. To the bench, I just told them to just keep leaving me open.”
Then, with the game hanging in the balance, Theis came up with a game-saving block on Trae Young. Smart corralled the loose ball and stepped over Young as Young was lying on the floor. Young was called for a foul, and a quick skirmish between Smart and Hawks forward Alex Len followed.
Did Trae Young foul Marcus Smart here? ? pic.twitter.com/IyHKY7q11O
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) January 4, 2020
Smart and Len were both dealt technical fouls. Here’s what Smart had to say about the sequence.
“Me and Trae Young got into something, and (Len) came out of nowhere and just grabbed me,” Smart said. “I just told him, ‘Don’t grab, watch out, this has nothing to do with you. Just don’t grab me.’ So that was it, I pushed him off me and we walked away.”
Tasked with slowing down one of the elite young scorers in the game, Smart held Young to his season average of 28 points on 9-23 shooting. The two battled against each other the whole game, which Smart believes led to the choppiness in the final seconds.
“He probably did (get mad at me),” Smart said. “I got mad at him when he elbowed me in my face, too, so there we go. … I was going to go around him, but I was like, ‘Where to?’ If I go right, I’m out of bounds, and I didn’t really see anybody to my left so I didn’t want to go that way. The game is still going, I made a play, I was going forward. He stuck his hand out and tried to trip me, got the foul and then Alex Len (came over).”
Smart finished with 15 points, nine assists, and six rebounds as the Celtics improved to 24-8 on the season heading into a road game against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday at 8 p.m.