The Boston Celtics definitely had a few scares in Game 3 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on May 21, 2022. Not too long after it had been confirmed that Jimmy Butler would not return in the second half of Game 3, Marcus Smart got hurt in what potentially looked like a season-ending ankle injury.
However, Smart soon returned to the court not too long after his ankle injury and checked back into the game with six minutes and 52 seconds to go in the third quarter.
A short while later, Jayson Tatum went down with a shoulder injury that looked as though it would
, at the very least, put him out for the rest of the game.
Much like Smart, Tatum also didn’t need much time to return from the court, as he returned to the game with less than four minutes to go.
Smart’s and Tatum’s return from injuries weren’t enough to help the Celtics complete a comeback victory against the Heat, but they were both quick enough to make people wonder how they came back so fast given how bad the injuries looked. So much so that plenty made jokes about how miraculously fast their recoveries were.
Among them was NBA All-Star Trae Young, who made a joke about how outstanding the Celtics trainers were in light of how little time it took to get Smart and Tatum back on the floor.
Young’s joke is clearly all meant in good fun and nothing else. However, in situations where Smart and Tatum get hurt only to come back moments later only demonstrate how much of a different animal the playoffs are compared to the regular season. While it’s very possible that their injuries weren’t as bad as they looked, it’s also possible they know what’s at stake so they want to be there for their team even if they’re not at 100 percent health.
Young Praised Jaylen Brown For His Performance in Game 3
Whenever a player puts up a high-scoring performance in a high-stakes game like Jaylen Brown did in Game 3 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, it’s common to see one of the game’s best players praise them for their performance.
After Brown scored 40 points in Game 3, Young praised Brown for his scoring output and called him a “killa” for his efforts.
Young tied with Luka Doncic for third overall in points per game among players in the 2021-22 season, which fits his reputation as one of the league’s best all-around scorers. To see him praise Brown for his scoing total should mean a lot to Brown even if Boston wound up losing.
Scoring-wise, Brown’s performance was impressive, but it came with its warts. Brown’s 40 points played a part in keeping the Celtics in Game 3, but the seven turnovers he surrendered to Miami also played a part in preventing Boston from completing the comeback. Miami scored 33 points off Boston’s 24 turnovers with Brown having been responsible for more than 25 percent of those turnovers.
Smart’s and Tatum’s Injuries Likened to Paul Pierce’s in 2008
Because Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum didn’t take long to come back from their injuries in Game 3, many on Twitter compared the sequence of events to what happened to Paul Pierce during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
For context, midway through the third quarter of that game, Pierce fell to the ground in what appeared to be a knee injury. Pierce was carried off the floor only to be then seen being wheekchaired back to the locker room. Many feared the worst right away, but not too long afterward, Pierce came running back, hyping up the crowd.
Because Pierce returned as quickly as he did, many believe he faked the injury. In 2019, Pierce later admitted that the whole sequence happened because he needed to use the bathroom.
In light of Smart and Tatum going through similar sequences, it would make sense that some would compare their fast recoveries to Pierce’s. The difference being that replays showed that Smart’s and Tatum’s injuries looked painful. Although Pierce looked like he was in pain, no angle got a clear shot of his injury.