Although it may not always look like it in the box score, Marcus Smart made winning plays Monday.
Since Smart joined the Celtics before the 2014-15 season this has been a widely discussed topic and Boston’s newest head coach Ime Udoka already has seen his impact.
The 27-year-old struggled from the field for much of Monday’s overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets, but despite just seven points on 25 percent shooting, Smart came away with arguably the biggest play of the night stealing Charlotte’s in-bounds pass with under 20 seconds remaining to force overtime.
It left Udoka impressed.
“It’s what he’s always been about. It’s not always something that shows up on the stat sheet. He was 3-for-12, 1-for-9 from three but had some decent looks, missed them but he impacts the game in other ways. I said it to the group in there, I don’t care about the 41 (Jayson Tatum) and 30 (Jaylen Brown) from you guys, Marcus was the player of the game taking that last shot away from them,” Udoka said after the game via Zoom. “He does all the little things, switching onto (LaMelo Ball) and guarding some of those guys well. He does so much that doesn’t show up in the box score but we know the toughness and heart and soul of our team comes from him.”
Udoka wasn’t the only one with praise for Smart after the contest. Robert Williams III — who had himself a great night finishing with 12 points and 16 rebounds — couldn’t say enough about Smart’s late-game heroics.
“Smart’s a dog. You see that foul call he got, he has all those tendencies. He is very much appreciated on this end, always. We need him for sure,” Williams said after the game via Zoom. “There’s just a sense of reliability. He knows we’ve got his back and vice versa.”
All in a night’s work for the two-time first-team All-Defense selection.