Marcus Smart Sends Strong Message to Celtics After Embarrassing Game 1 Collapse

Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics.

Getty Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics.

On Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics took on the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston outscored the Heat in three of the four quarters, yet the end result of the game tells a different tale. Thanks to a third-quarter collapse, the Heat earned a 118-107 win and a 1-0 series lead.

Boston was outscored by 25 points in the third quarter, 39-14. They shot just 2-for-15 from the field and 0-for-7 from three-point range. In addition, they turned the ball over eight times, with six of those turnovers being committed by Jayson Tatum alone.

According to point guard Payton Pritchard, Marcus Smart sent the team a message after their collapse in the third. He said that Smart gave the team a speech about playing with more heart.

“Just have heart,” Pritchard revealed regarding Smart’s speech. “I think he was just telling us to compete, get after it. We were kind of playing soft there for a little bit, so that’s pretty much it.”

Payton Pritchard: We Bailed Out Jimmy Butler With Fouling | Celtics vs Heat Game 1MIAMI, FL — Payton Pritchard was interviewed following Boston's 118-107 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics will have a chance to even the score in Game 2 on Thursday. On Jimmy Butler, Payton Pritchard said the Celtics bailed Butler out on a lot of pumpfakes and…2022-05-18T04:14:54Z

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was unable to compete in the contest himself due to a right mid-foot sprain. While the cause has yet to be officially revealed, some have speculated the injury occurred in Boston’s Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Potential Origin of Smart’s Injury

Smart’s foot sprain kept him out of Game 1. Though Smart of the team has yet to reveal the cause of the ailment, Smart did take a hard fall in Game 7 against the Bucks. While Smart was mid-air, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo fell into him, causing him to come crashing down without much time to brace for impact.

Marcus Smart knees Giannis in the head & takes scary fall face first in game 7#nba #nbahighlights #nbahighlightstoday2022-05-15T20:07:41Z

According to Ime Udoka before the game, Smart’s injury was so bad that “the swelling was too much” for him to play with. This update came just one day after Udoka revealed Smart’s injury was “getting around the clock treatment” for his injury.

With Smart out, Derrick White was inserted into the starting lineup. He and the youngster Pritchard were left to carry the bulk of the guard minutes, while Aaron Nesmith also saw his first stretch of significant playing time this postseason.

How Smart’s Replacements Performed

White played 28:59 in Game 1, and while he was effective on the defensive end, his offensive contributions were minimal. The combo guard shot just 1-for-4 from the field and 0-for-1 from deep, notching three points. He did, however, put up four assists in the contest.

Pritchard’s impact had the opposite effect. His offensive fingerprints were left all over this game, as he scored 18 points off the bench. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too efficient in the contest, shooting 6-for-16 from the field and 4-for-11 from range.

Lastly, Nesmith was a sparkplug on the defensive side of the ball. Despite going 0-for-3 from the field, Nesmith recorded three blocks and constantly got in the way of Miami’s transition offense.

It is unclear whether or not Smart will be back for Game 2, though if he does return, he will almost certainly ensure that Boston plays with the heart and competitive fire he was looking for.

Game 2 of the series will take place on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

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