Looking at the box score after Wednesday’s game, it would be easy to assume that Marcus Smart had a bad night during the Celtics’ 102-91 win over the Hornets. The guard started and played 35 minutes in place of an injured Jaylen Brown and posted a lackluster five points on 2-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and two assists.
Meanwhile, Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin were having two of the best games of their respective seasons, delivering strong contributions on both ends. The trio of Smart, Rozier and Larkin played together for much of the fourth quarter as Kyrie Irving rested, but the head coach had to make a decision once the All-Star guard was ready to come back to the game with five minutes remaining. Which one of his bench guards would sit for Irving?
Brad Stevens stuck with Smart despite his rough shooting night, and a statement from earlier this season helps explain why.
“Marcus is an incredible competitor,” said Stevens. “He’s a guy that figures out ways to win — sometimes that you can look at conventionally and other times not. There’s a reason he’s in the game when the game is on the line.”
Smart lived up to that lofty praise on Wednesday night during crunch time. The 23-year-old took no shots in the fourth quarter but was as big of a contributor to the win as anybody on the roster. Let’s take a look at some of his winning plays, many of which won’t show up in the box score.