After a terrible loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, the Boston Celtics climbed back to .500 on Wednesday with a hard-fought victory over the New York Knicks, thanks in large part to the late-game efforts of Marcus Smart.
The veteran guard scored 14 of his 17 points in the final eight minutes of play and all but 17 of Boston’s 31 fourth-quarter points. Smart knocked down a handful of pivotal free throws, as well as the final dagger — a three-pointer with 36.4 seconds left in regulation — putting the Celtics up for good.
Smart, who has been vilified at times throughout his career for his shot selection, has always remained adamant in both his and his teammate’s confidence when it comes to him putting the ball in the basket.
“I make winning plays for my team,” Smart said following the game. “I’m going to give us extra possessions. My threes, I’ve always believed in myself, like I said. I [couldn’t] care less what anybody says, I’m going to continue to shoot it. My teammates continue to believe in me.”
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Brad Stevens on Smart: ‘I Believe in Who He Is’
Following the Celtics’ 101-99 victory over the Knicks, head coach Brad Stevens applauded Smart, who flirted with a double-double on the night — totaling nine assists to go along with 17 points, four rebounds and one steal.
“This has been a really hard year in a lot of ways, but I just believe in his resolve,” head coach Brad Stevens, via NESN. “I believe in who he is as a competitor. I know because I’ve been around him. I know that sometimes we get caught up in some of his home run swings he takes and, you know, I think those get over-analyzed, and everybody misses the fact that he’s got the courage to do it. He’s tough. He helps you win. And tonight he made a ton of big plays.”
With the win on Wednesday, the Celtics jumped the Knicks for seventh-place in the East. With 22 games remaining in the regular season, Boston has ample opportunity to rise up the ranks over the next month and a half.
The Celtics will look to continue their winning ways on Friday when they return to the court to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves — owners of the league’s worst record.
Celtics Fans Lay into Marcus Smart
While Smart’s teammates and coaches may continue to believe in the guard’s abilities from beyond the arc, Celtics fans clearly still have their doubts. From his bullish shot selection, to claims of making winning plays, to his confident demeanor, Bostonians were not all too pleased with Smart following the game, and they let him know it.
Fans let loose an array of critical tweets responding to his postgame comments (via Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn).
The harsh, unhappy takes continued to pile on, but no need to beat a dead horse as you most likely get the gist.
Of course, these feelings aren’t reciprocated by the entire fanbase. While Smart may be a bit trigger happy at times, many Celtic faithful still view the gritty guard as the heartbeat of the team and a pivotal piece in hope of turning the season around.