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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Smart’s big sacrifice

How the Celtics turned their season around

In the midst of their first three game losing streak this season, the Boston Celtics came into Los Angeles looking to right the ship against their 2015 doppelgangers.

Making the Smart Play

With the Lakers having a “normal” first quarter (0 for 7 from beyond the arc), the Celtics took a small lead, then extended it on the strength of Kyrie Irving and the Marcus Who Can Shoot (Morris, .354 career 3P%).

Nothing had to be done, so Marcus Smart stepped up and hit 3 of his first 5 shots from beyond the arc, giving Boston a 14-point lead late in the first half.

The Lakers came back to make the game close, but everyone knew the Celtics’ defensive excellence, greater experience and Kyrie’s ability as a closer would end with another close victory over a lottery team, right?

Apparently, everyone got the message but the Marcus who can’t shoot.

Like a drunken gambler who just doesn’t know when to walk away from the roulette wheel, Smart — a 29.3% career 3-point shooter, currently fighting for the #9 spot as the worst NBA shooter ever— returned to his normal habit of orchestrating a symphony of rim clanking sounds by missing 3 of his next 4 shots. Still, hitting 4 for 9 from downtown is a super night. Only four players in the NBA shoot 3-pointers better than that.

When the game is on the line, he has to make the smart play, right?

Brad-exander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Coach Brad Stevens looks like such a school boy, but I’m sure the curse words had to be boiling up inside him as the Lakers took control of the game in the fourth quarter: Kyle Kuzma single-handedly beating Kyrie Irving in one-on-one; Jayson Tatum’s horrible play (1 for 6 with 3 turnovers) costing him ROY votes on national TV; all while the Lakers missed 15 free throws in throughout the game. On one bad call, you could read his lips as he yelled “bullshit.”

But nothing could prepare him for the last 5.7 seconds of the game, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP), a 78% career free throw shooter missed both shots and Smart got the rebound.

Here’s a recap of the play-by-play call and a transcript of Stevens thoughts:

Rebound Smart, who dribbles up the court… (Okay, there’s no time outs, so he has to advance the ball)

…pursued by KCP (Okay, Marcus, get the ball to Kyrie. He’s an automatic layup, we’re only down by one.)

Smart crosses midcourt, guarded by KCP… (Dude, you gotta pass the ball)

…goes behind the back to get space… (Look! There’s Rozier wide open at the right corner)

Smart takes a step back, off balance three… (*holding his rosary beads* Help me, Jesus…)

…it’s no good. The Lakers win! (Ima cut that muthfucka)

In the news the next day came this announcement:

Happy “End” ings, or All’s Well that “Ends” Well.

That night, against the Clippers, Smart’s tag team of replacements (Ojeleye, Nader, and Larkin were all DNPs against the Lakers) shot a combined 4 for 9 from beyond the arc in an easy win.

The story released today states “Marcus Smart out two weeks with right hand lacerations.”

But I think we all know the truth.

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Marcus Smart will never jack up a bad 3-pointer again.

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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