Marcus Smart made his return in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals and provided a spark for the Boston Celtics to tie the series against the Miami Heat, and there was little doubt he would miss out.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘Game 2, you’re playing,’ ” Smart told reporters, per The Athletic’s Jay King.
Smart also said he tried to do anything he could to speed up his recovery, including pool workouts.
The 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is the ultimate competitor, and his drive motivates his teammates, something that may have been missing in Game 1.
“It was a lot for me,” Smart told reporters, per NBC Sports Boston. “I was very frustrated with that because I couldn’t get out there and help my teammates. I had to sit there and watch us struggle the way we did. Knowing I probably could have helped was very painful but at the same time, it was good for us. It was good for our team and for our guys to play through some more adversity, and that’s not having two of your starters. And you have to find a way. We led three quarters, and they had that one big quarter. And that was a teaching moment for us.
“And then for me today, it was just come out, be as aggressive as you can and not let the same mistake happen. We’re playing against a really, really, really, really, good Miami team. When you make mistakes, they make you pay for it. We got to limit those mistakes, and that was my mindset. Come in, get Jayson (Tatum), Jaylen (Brown) the ball, Al (Horford), get them their shots and take what the defense gives you.”
The series now transitions into Boston as Smart and the Celtics will look to grab their first lead of the series against the Heat at TD Garden. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.