Marcus Smart made his fourth career start Tuesday night against the New York Knicks. By the time the game was over, he had presented a strong case for Brad Stevens to keep him in the starting mix for the remainder of the season.
The 21-year-old filled up the box score during a career-high 36 minutes, posting 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in a 108-97 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
More importantly, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft helped the Celtics jump out to a 14-2 lead with six quick points in the game’s opening minutes, which allowed the visitors to cruise to a wire-to-wire win. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the green in what was a balanced offensive effort for Boston. Avery Bradley scored a game-high 26 points, while Jared Sullinger added 22 points, nine rebounds and a career-high six assists.
Smart started in place of Jae Crowder, who had started the previous 13 games for the Celtics. With Smart in the fold, Evan Turner shifted to small forward, giving the Celtics starting five an extremely small look that ended up working well on both ends of the floor.
“It felt good,” Smart told reporters after the game. “We came out with energy out of the gate and that’s what we’ve been lacking.”
Smart’s teammates also gave the youngster credit for setting the tone early.
Jared Sullinger on why the Celtics got off to a quick start: “Marcus Smart and the way he played defensively.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 4, 2015
The Celtics are back in action Wednesday night at the TD Garden against the Denver Nuggets, and chances are Smart will stick with the starting unit for good this time around.