When it mattered the most, having the undisputed heart and soul of your team truly means a lot.
Just ask the Boston Celtics.
After missing Marcus Smart due to foot injury in their East Finals opener, the Cs felt rejuvenated and boosted with him upon entering the Game 2 of their series against the Miami Heat.
From Smart’s impactful presence and the collective effort of the group, the ball club managed to tie the series in a wire-to-wire fashion, 127-102. As such, head coach Ime Udoka can only give nothing but praise to their reigning Defensive Player of the Year’s performance coming from the Game 1 layoff.
“He sets the tone,” Udoka said about Smart, per Souchi Terada of Massachusetts Live News. “Defensive Player of the Year for the reason. Ability to switch and switch onto bigger bodies. He brings the physicality every night, and kind of gets everybody else in line.”
Smart dropped a near triple-double stats of 24 points, 12 assists, and 9 boards to go along with the game best +32 +/- — a huge push for the Cs’ campaign to put the series to 1-1 deadlock. Without Derrick White who missed the game due to personal reasons, the feisty leader of Boston had no minute restriction in the backcourt slate and gave his squad tons of much-needed plays from both ends of the floor.
With the series now tied, the competitiveness between the two remarkable east coast rivals can only get higher. The matchup will now shift to Boston on Saturday.