The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will contend for a trip to the NBA Finals on Sunday night, and while many will point to Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler as Game 7’s biggest x-factors, two NBA analysts are looking at Marcus Smart to potentially make the biggest difference for Boston.
“What will go a long way toward (winning) is Marcus Smart stepping up to the plate and playing well,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the networks pregame coverage. “Let’s remind you, this is the reigning defensive player of the year, that’s pretty much been an incredible factor throughout these playoffs.
“In order for the Boston Celtics to win Game 7 tonight in Miami, Marcus Smart has to be the energizer bunny; that factor that shifts things and brings it all for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.”
Smart was essentially a non-factor for Boston in their 111-103 loss to Miami on Friday, scoring 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting with a pair of turnovers. If Boston is going to win Game 7 and advance to the NBA Finals, former NBA player Corey Alexander believes Marcus Smart needs to return to his Game 2 form.
?Go back and look at his Game 2 numbers after missing Game 1. 24 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, Marcus Smart was all over the place,? Alexander said on ESPN?s ?SportsCenter?. ?He was a menace defensively, he did everything the Celtics needed him to do in a big win on the road in Miami.
?Marcus Smart has to be more of a facilitator. He?s got to be more of a guy who gets everything going for the Celtics on both ends of the floor. I think he does that in Game 7.?
Smart will have his chance to help out Boston’s stars Sunday, with tipoff of Game 7 taking place at 8:30 p.m. ET from FTX arena.