Marcus Smart gives Boston Celtics a spark in exchange for an injury

BOSTON – With the words "Mama & # 39; s Boy" and "I fight, scrawled" scrawled on the side of his sneakers, Celtics guard Marcus Smart came to the scoreboard at the end of the first quarter of the Game 5 on Tuesday against Milwaukee Bucks and felt an adrenaline rush.

1 Related [19659005] Smart did not spend the last six weeks out of the game while recovering from thumb surgery, but during his rehabilitation, he learned that his 63-year-old mother, Camellia, had been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. However, even as he prepared for an uncertain future, he implored Smart to return to Boston, telling his son that returning to see him on the court would make him smile.

Then all of Smart's emotions swelled when the TD Garden The crowd roared when it registered for the first time since March 11, the night a ligament was broken in the right hand as it was thrown for a loose ball . And how appropriate is that, just 40 seconds after his first shift, Smart was again lying on the garden parquet trying to catch a robbery.

Smart's intensity, particularly on the defensive side, was spread to the teammates who serenaded him with a standing ovation when he learned that he had been authorized to return to the action of the game. Smart helped the Celtics lock up Giannis Antetokounmpo and limited his supporting cast as he emerged with a 92-87 triumph to take the lead in the 3-2 series.

After leaving the podium after a press conference after the game, Smart planned to call him a mother at the Texas hospital, where he is currently undergoing cancer treatments. Smart said he is responding well to the initial infusions and is hopeful that he will continue to make progress.

Ignoring his words, Smart has embraced the fun of basketball, and savored the opportunity to be back on the court Tuesday night. But the words on his shoes were a constant reminder of why he was there.

Back after missing six weeks with a thumb injury, Marcus Smart of the Celtics provided the energy and busy plays that have become his trademark. Winslow Townson / USA TODAY Sports

"I wrote & # 39; Mama & # 39; s Boy & # 39; and I fight, fights – that's what I told you. I'm going to keep fighting, "Smart said. "And I put," F — Cancer "- and that's how I feel, we're going to get through this, my mom is doing well right now, she's getting better, and things are getting better for us So we're still positive, we're still praying, and we still have faith. "

Things are also up for the Celtics. Boston barely looked like a team that ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency during the regular season while losing repeated lapses at Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee, as the Bucks matched the series.

But the return of Smart, along with the coach The surprise decision of Brad Stevens to slip the rookie Semi Ojeleye in the starting lineup, helped the Celtics to contain Antetokounmpo, as few teams have done this season. The small, happy Boston lineups put out Antetokounmpo's units and limited their transition opportunities. He finished with only 16 points in 5 of 10 shots.

The Greek himself Freak could attest to the defensive impact of Smart. There was a sequence at the end of the first quarter in which Smart sniffed an alley balloon and jumped high before hitting Antetokounmpo in the basket with his left hand.

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"Marcus, man, he played hard," said Antetokounmpo. "It definitely gives that team the advantage, defensively and offensively, it definitely helped them a lot."

"It can definitely be an X factor for the Celtics. "

Smart finished with nine points, five rebounds and four badists over 25 minutes, he lost five of his seven shots and had five turnovers, it was not a perfect comeback, but Smart did what he normally does and did all the

More importantly, he won all the prizes and plays, as at the end of the fourth quarter with Boston clinging to a five-point lead:

Smart stumbled trying to drive in the basket, and four Bucks converged while He was lying on the court near the free-throw line, desperately trying to maintain possession, Smart kept the ball away from eight curious hands, even with Thon Maker's hands close to his face and Antetokounmpo with one hand on the ball. Perhaps more surprising, Smart finally fed Al Horford into the baseline for a sealed game.

Smart and Horfor Previously, I had joined in a noisy alley slam, a rec chemistry ordatorio that had exhibited throughout the regular season. Horford finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, taking on the role of big man when Stevens eliminated Greg Monroe from his rotation and played against Aron Baynes for a few limited minutes.

Smart's versatility allowed Stevens to explore new alignments.

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Marcus Smart breaks down how he came back and helped his team beat the Bucks in Game 5.

"[Smart’s return] means a lot to our team," Horford said. . "I think I said at the beginning of the year that he was a kind of soul of our team, everything he brings: his toughness, his disinterest, just a hard player, and we feed off his energy tonight." 19659006] "I felt the crowd He fed on it, we fed on it, and it's good to have it back. It was a real surprise for our group, because I did not think I would return. I did not want to hope even when I heard it was a possibility. We're happy to get it back, and tonight it had a huge impact on our team. "

Smart was expected to lose six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery in mid-March, and his return date slowly slipped in. In the last few weeks, Smart headed to New York on Monday to obtain his doctor's final authorization to resume contact activities.

When Smart entered the team's practice facility on Tuesday morning to practice shooter, his comrades already knew the good news.

"As soon as I walked into the locker room, everyone started applauding and applauding," Smart said. "That shows the camaraderie we have as a team, as a group. We support each other, and that is the characteristic of a great team. We have a long way to go, but we are still pushing. "

Terry Rozier noted that Smart makes teammates want to" go to war and battle. "

Jaylen Brown said about the fight Smart in the fourth quarter, "If I had to put my money in someone, it does not matter who it is, no sport, I'm putting my money in Smart coming in with that ball."

There's still work to be done, and the Celtics "The The first opportunity to close this series is Thursday night in Milwaukee. The presence of Smart has provided a necessary shock of energy, but Boston must find a way to take advantage of that defensive intensity whether Smart is on the court.

But Tuesday night could not have been better for Smart, especially knowing that his mother was watching him from afar.

"It meant everything for me to be there, for her to see me on the court, and play and do what I like to do," Smart said, "and all the sacrifices she made for me." So it was great for me being out tonight "


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