The Boston Celtics picked up a massive victory over the Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon, 126-120. Jayson Tatum dropped a 54-point bomb at TD Garden, outdueling KD and his 37 points.
With the win, Boston now sits only 1.5 games back of the second seed in the East. The Eastern Conference playoff race is coming down to the wire, and C’s have firmly placed themselves in the mix.
After the game, the birthday boy, Marcus Smart, was asked about his journey with the Celtics. While he did acknowledge the ups and downs, he related it all back to how well the C’s have been playing lately.
“I’ve been on teams where we won a lot of games, been on teams when we didn’t. Been on teams that have been in the playoffs and haven’t. That’s part of it - learning, experience, going through it. Those hard times, make it sweet when times like this start to happen. You’re more grateful for those times.”
Smart turned 28 on Sunday, and this season marks Smart’s eighth in Boston. He was drafted sixth overall by the Celtics back in 2014 and has been with the team ever since. Despite an ever-changing roster, Smart has stuck around through it all.
And with those ever-changing teams, Smart has played with lots of teammates, some of which have left the Celtics and returned. He took the time to note the “battles” he’s been through with some of his longtime teammates.
“I’ve been here for a while and JT, JB, Al’s back, Theis is back - we’ve been through some battles together. Blood, sweat, tears, and pain. So, to be able to have games and nights like this, that we start to trend in the right direction is a great feeling.”
One of those teammates also just happened to have a historic game on Sunday afternoon. Tatum dropped an electric 54 points in the win over Brooklyn, notching the second-highest scoring game in the last 15 years of Celtics basketball. (He’s also number one on that list with his 60-point game against the San Antonio Spurs last year.)
When asked about what it was like to see Tatum thrive at that level, Smart didn’t sound too surprised. He said that it’s the team’s job to stay ready when he needs help, but when he’s got it going as he did on Sunday, objective number one is to “stay out of his way.”
“I’ve been playing with Jayson for a while, we all have. So, we kind of understand, you know, ‘okay, that shot, okay’ - now he has it, we know. And like I said earlier, you just try to stay out of his way, and you just be ready when the ball comes your way to make a play.”
Despite Tatum’s monster night, the Nets still managed to keep it close throughout the game. Neither team was ever able to get much separation. The biggest lead was nine and there were 28 lead changes.
When Smart was asked about those last few minutes of the contest, he said it was the best kind of chaos possible.
“Bedlam. A state of uproar. That’s exactly what it was. It was chaos. It was good chaos. It was a fun game. It was a fun five minutes to be a part of. It was a very competitive five minutes. And as a competitor, that’s what you live for.”
Boston has only lost two games since January 29 and is 22-8 in 2022. Their next game isn’t until Wednesday when they take on the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center at 7:00 p.m.