After missing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a right mid-foot sprain, Celtics guard Marcus Smart was determined to get back on the court for Game 2 on Thursday, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Smart was especially motivated to return after having called out his teammates for letting a lead slip away in an ugly third quarter on Tuesday.
“I actually got into the guys. I really chewed into them,” Smart said. “They felt it and I felt bad for them because it’s one thing to be out there with your guys and then another thing to not be playing and hearing me come at them the way I did. So for me, when I inserted myself back in for Game 2, I wanted to come back and show the guys what I meant by my words and with my actions. I’m showing them I got y’all backs.”
Smart showed no signs of rust in his return on Thursday, recording a near triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, and three steals. As Haynes notes, Smart was the first Celtic to put up at least 20 points, 10 assists, and three steals in a playoff game since Rajon Rondo did it 10 years ago.
“I did not see that stat, but I’ll take it,” Smart told Haynes. “That’s an awesome, awesome accomplishment. I’m just trying to do what I can to help my team win. These games are important.”
Here’s more on the Celtics:
- After playing a huge role in the Celtics’ Game 7 win over Milwaukee last round, forward Grant Williams was once again a difference-maker on Thursday, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Williams, who is extension-eligible this offseason, can space the floor offensively and is a versatile defender. He had 19 points and was a plus-37 in 32 minutes in Game 2. “He just (has come) a long way from his first year,” teammate Jayson Tatum said of Williams. “He’s worked on his game, and he’s developed into somebody that we believe and trust in to catch it at half court.”
- Heat guard Max Strus, who has started every game for Miami since the start of the postseason, began his professional career by signing a two-way contract with the Celtics in 2019, but was waived before that season began. Celtics head coach Ime Udoka acknowledged on Thursday that Boston “might have missed out on that one,” tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Strus was also on Chicago’s roster before joining the Heat in November 2020.
- Sam Hauser is the only Celtic listed on the injury report for Saturday’s Game 3, so the team should have its full rotation available for that pivotal contest, tweets Bontemps. That includes Derrick White, who missed Game 2 for family reasons.