HomeSportsMarcus Smart bolsters his value in Celtics' Game 5 victory over Heat

Marcus Smart bolsters his value in Celtics’ Game 5 victory over Heat

Smart proves why he is vital to Celtics success in Game 5 win that originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON — From time to time, Marcus Smart reminds us that he is still the emotional leader of the Celtics.

That memory came just 17 seconds into Game 5 on Thursday night.

On the Miami Heat’s opening possession, Smart stripped a driving Bam Adebayo, ducked headfirst to secure the loose ball, and shoved a pass to Jayson Tatum, who went coast-to-coast for a layup to the TD Garden crowd set on fire.

Smart’s extra effort set the tone for the Celtics, who jumped to a 15-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back in a 110-97 victory. After trailing 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, the C’s have rallied to win two in a row and are putting serious pressure on the Heat heading into Game 6 in Miami on Saturday night.

Derrick White (a team-high 24 points) and Tatum (21 points and a season-high 11 assists) both played key roles in Boston’s Game 5 victory. But Smart was the engine that powered the Celtics on both sides.

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“Smart was just a beast tonight,” said Jaylen Brown after the game. “I don’t know what game you were watching but Marcus on both sides of the ball was incredible tonight. It was a great performance from him.”

While the Celtics are used to the 2023 NBA Hustle Award winner making an effort, Smart also increased his offensive play, matching his 2023 playoff high with 24 points on 7 of 12 shots. He and White combined for 10 3-pointers, a deadly recipe for opponents to hold off Tatum and Brown.

“You need everyone at some point to get big, and Smart and D-White were the reason we won tonight,” said Tatum. “Those two guys, their ability to shoot tonight, spread the defense and then play on defense – we consumed their energy tonight.”

The Celtics needed an energy boost after an embarrassing Game 3 loss in Miami that left them with an insurmountable deficit. But after the C’s rallied to win Game 4, Smart made sure to set the tone in Game 5, and his team responded by outsmarting a Heat team.

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Boston led Miami in virtually every rush on Thursday, from points from turnovers (27 to 19) to replay points (17 to 7) to steals (13 to six). It all started with Smart’s aggressive mindset, which the Celtics will have to bring to Miami on Saturday night in what should be their toughest test of the postseason yet.

“He’s just an emotional key for us,” head coach Joe Mazzulla added to Smart. “When he’s locked up and playing both sides of the ball at a different pace, it kind of gives us our identity and our lives.”

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