Just over a week ago, Marcus Smart’s game-winning shot attempt versus the Sacramento Kings took the unkindliest rolls on the rim and fell out as the Boston Celtics had their 10-game winning streak snapped.
Smart got a do-over of sorts when the Kings made a visit to the TD Garden on Monday.
Smart continued to make winning plays as he has all season, and they came in the final minute of regulation when the veteran guard hit two go-ahead shots and also came through with a timely steal to help preserve a 103-102 victory to keep the Celtics undefeated on the parquet this season.
Smart’s first clutch basket looked similar to his last-second attempt in Sacramento with the rim playing a factor in the outcome of the shot. With the game tied and just under a minute left to play, Smart worked his way to the high post with Cory Joseph draped all over him. Smart then got off a fadeaway, 18-foot jumper that took a high bounce off the front rim and seemed to get a push in the right direction from the ghost of Red Auerbach to fall in.
MARCUS SMART MAKING BIG PLAYS pic.twitter.com/3PZhy0Dtie— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 26, 2019
“That was a good feeling,” said Smart, who finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go along with seven assists and a season-high five steals. “When I shot it and I saw it on the rim again, I was like, ‘Not again. I got to get it this time.’ It felt good to finally see the ball finally go in and it’s just ironic that it happened to bounce like that. This time I got it.”
That shot gave the Celtics a brief two-point lead, but Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 3-pointer on the ensuing possession put the Kings back in front.
Not to worry because Smart came through on the offensive end again. This time, Smart didn’t temp fate by using the rim. After a spin move got Smart into the lane and with Joseph falling backward, Smart banked in a shot to retake the lead with 31.1 seconds remaining.
“Jaylen (Brown) and Marcus Smart answered the bell late over and over as they were hitting those really tough shots,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens as Smart scored six of Boston’s final eight points in the final 2:02 of play with Brown (team-high 24 points) recording the only other basket for the C’s during that stretch.
After those offensive plays, Smart turned to his bread-and-butter and relied on his stout defense to steal the ball away from Bogdanovic on Sacramento's next trip down the floor to add to his early candidacy for Defensive Player of the Year.
The steal didn’t lead to any points — Smart appeared to get fouled by Buddy Hield on his breakaway drive but didn’t get the call — but again it demonstrated Smart’s penchant to make game-changing plays when it mattered most.
That’s been a common theme for Smart throughout his career, especially on the defensive end. But as Smart demonstrated in the latest win for the Celtics, he can be counted on in moderation to make those winning plays offensively, too, even if he needs a little help from the rim.