Celtics

Celtics-Heat Notebook: Marcus Smart thinks post Game 2 arguments brought C’s closer, Heat explore strategy shifts

(Kim Klement/Getty Images)

Marcus Smart spoke publicly with the media for the first time since his locker room spat with teammates after an ugly Game 2 loss on Thursday night and he had an interesting phrase to describe that situation.

"Electrifying, what happened in the locker room,” Smart continued. "We’re a family, a family fights all the time. I fight with my brothers all the time. But at the end of the day, we can fight with each other and nobody else can. It happens between families, especially a family like ours who has been together so long. It’s going to happen.”

"We’ve got a lot of guys who play with their feelings on their sleeves, who play with their heart on their sleeves, play with their heart night in and night out, and we weren’t supposed to be happy down 2-0, especially with those two games that we gave us. We’re playing against a great Miami team and we can’t have those lapses like that. Of course, emotions are going to fly, but we’re a family and it happens.”

The Celtics came back from those heated emotions in impressive fashion in Game 3 Saturday night, leading the Heat from start-to-finish, the first time that has happened against Miami in a game since 2019. The turmoil in Smart’s mind after Game 2 was something that brought the C’s as a team closer together.

“The way that I responded and my teammates responded, it shows that we are as close as ever even though we've gone through adversity,” said Smart. "We still are a family and we are going to need to have moments like that…Before you see the rainbow, it has to storm. For us, that was a storm that we had to go through.”

The adversity was also a bit of a learning experience for Smart personally. He was a guilty party for much of the Game 2 collapse but struggled to handle what he thought was more criticism than he deserved from teammates and coaches. After last week's incident, he believes he's grown from the criticism instead of acting out against it.

"Not only being able to express myself but also being able to listen to my teammates, listen to what they have to say, listen to what my coaching staff has to say and just really taking it to heart and trying to go out there and not let that affect me and how I play. In the past, I would let those comments get into my head and take myself out of the game. Like I said, the way that I responded and my teammates responded, it shows that we are as close as ever even though we've gone through adversity.

“I would have been more worried after that Game 2 loss if everyone was calm, cool, and collected. That would have been a problem. I hate losing more than I love winning. I play with a lot of people who feel the same way, so for us to be able to express that, to get it out, and to build that type of energy for ourselves, because there aren’t as many fans here."

The true test will likely come for the Celtics when more adversity strikes in this series, something that did not happen until the closing minutes of Game 3. Even then, the C’s still remained comfortably in the lead, so they weren't tested. For now, it appears the argument has done nothing to impact Smart’s standing in the locker room as a leader with his teammates.

"He’s our heart and soul,” said Grant Williams. "He’s a guy that keeps us going, keeps us inspired, keeps us competitive. He’s our dog. We just have to look and follow his lead and trust that we have a lot of guys on this team that can do a lot of great things. He’s just going to compete his butt off, and we follow that standard and follow that lead, and I think we’ll be well set off.”

Heat talk changes

One of the C’s adjustments heading into Game 3 was putting the smaller Kemba Walker on Jae Crowder. The move didn’t hurt the C’s defensively at all (Crowder was 2-of-10 from 3) and also freed up Smart to