Marcus Smart drives me crazy.
I hate his flopping.
I love his defense.
I hate his poor shooting.
I love how he competes.
In Game 4, I just loved Marcus Smart. We saw why he was the sixth pick in the 2014 draft. He has big balls and loves to play in big games.
The Celtics were in big trouble. They were in danger of falling behind three games to one in the series. Kent Bazemore buries a three and the Hawks take a 16 point lead with 7:58 to go in the third quarter.
Brad Stevens on resiliency: “One of our most redeeming qualities is the guys are really fighters. Never give up, play to the end.”
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) April 25, 2016
But the Celtics showed grit. Jonas Jerebko had an awful first half but redeemed himself in the second half. Jerebko hit big shots and did wonders on the boards finishing with yet another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Paul Milsap scored 26 points in the first three games. Sunday night Milsap showed why he is the Hawks best player. He was unstoppable, scoring 26 in the first half on his way to a game high 45 points.
No one on the Celtic bigs could contain Milsap. So Brad Stevens made a bold move by putting Smart on Milsap. In the final 13 minutes, Milsap shot 2-of-6 and was a minus-12. Smart used his strength and smarts (pun intended) to take Milsap out of the game.
And on the offensive end, Smart was huge. Fourth quarter — the Celtics down 80-74 with 9:34 left — Smart proceeds to score the Celtics next 11 points. He hits a layup, makes a foul shot, throws down a dunk, then hits two straight three’s to turn the six point deficit into a one point Celtics lead.
And Smart was not done yet. In overtime, he dishes to Amir Johnson for the layup. Next possession, another dime to Johnson for the dunk. Smart finishes with 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He was a team high plus-24 for the game.
Smart on his offensive tear during the fourth quarter: “It was one of the best rhythms I’ve had all year.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 25, 2016
Let’s not forget Isaiah Thomas. He led the Celtics with 28 points and sealed the win with a clutch three pointer from the corner. Isaiah gets the love from Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount after the win.
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) April 25, 2016
So now the series shifts to Atlanta for Game 5 on Tuesday night. It is now a best two-out-of-three with the winner moving on. These two games have given the Celtics life. It will be a tall order for them to win this series, especially having two of the last three games in Atlanta, but the young scrappy Celtics have given the Hawks plenty to think about.
The Celtics did what they had to do at home. Now let’s see if their momentum can carry them back on the road.