BOSTON – With the words "Mama's Boy" and "I fight, you fight," scrawled on the side of his sneakers, Celtics guard Marcus Smart stepped in late in the first game of Tuesday's Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks and felt an adrenaline rush.
The Celtics seemed to escape late in Game 5 with a gunshot injury, to the annoyance of the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited to 10 field shots on Tuesday 5 in Boston, and after that he said he must be "more aggressive and play more games" in Game 6.
Smart had not only been exposed to thumb surgery for the past six weeks, but during his rehab, he learned that his 63-year-old mother, Camellia, had been diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. But even as she prepared for an uncertain future, she pleaded with Smart to return to Boston and tell her son that a smile would reappear on his face.
So all of Smart & # 39; s feelings swelled as the TD Garden crowd roared when he first checked in since March 11, during the night he tore a ribbon in his right, shooting hand while he dived for a loose ball. And how fitting, just 40 seconds in his first shift, Smart pawed the garden parquet again, trying to steal a steal.
The intensity of Smart, especially at the defensive end, rubbed off on the teammates who received him with a serenade. Applause after learning, he realized he should return to the play plot. Smart helped the Celtics beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and limited his supporting role as he led to a 3–2 series with a 92-87 triumph
After Smart had resigned from the podium after a post-game press conference, Smart wanted to call him Mom in Texas Hospital, where she is currently undergoing cancer treatment. Smart said she responds well to initial infusions and is hopeful she will progress.
Smart has accepted the distraction of basketball and enjoyed the opportunity to be back on the field on Tuesday night. But the words on his shoes kept reminding him why he was there.
"I wrote" Mama's Boy "and" I fight, you fight "- that's what I told her I'll keep fighting, "Smart said. "And I say, F — Cancer," and that's how I feel, we're going to beat that now, my mother is fine now, she's getting better, and things are looking good for us. So we're still positive, we're still praying, and we still have faith. "
Things are looking up for the Celtics as well. Boston had barely looked like a defensive champion in the regular season, with repeated defeats in games 3 and 4 at Milwaukee as the Bucks had equalized the series.
But the return of Smart, paired with manager Brad Stevens' surprise decision to push the rookie Semi Ojeleye into the grid, helped the Celtics keep Antetokounmpo, as few teams did this season have done. Boston's playful balls with small balls stifled Antetokounmpos's attempts and limited his transitional possibilities. He came with only 16 points on 5 of 10 shooting.
The Greek Freak himself was able to confirm the defensive effect of Smarts. There was a sequence late in the first quarter in which Smart sniffed an incoming avenue-oop praise and jumped high before hitting Antetokounmpo with his left hand on the basket.
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"Marcus, man, he played hard," said Antetokounmpo. "He definitely gives the team a defensive and offensive advantage, and 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 assists over 25 minutes He missed five of his seven shots and had five turnovers It was far from a perfect return, but Smart did what he normally does and made all the little games. More importantly, he made all profits play, as late in the fourth quarter with Boston clinging to a five-point lead:
Smart stumbled trying to hit the basket, and four bucks converged as he did Smart held the ball away from eight curious hands, even though Thon Makers hands lay near his face and Antetokounmpo got a hand on the ball, perhaps even more astoundingly, Smart finally fed a wide open Al Horford baseline for a game seal layup
Smart and Horfor d had previously been in a noisy alley oop slam z a reminder of the chemistry they had shown during the regular season. Horford finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, embracing the role of the big man when Stevens removed Greg Monroe from his turn and played Aron Baynes off the bench for a few minutes.
Smart's versatility allowed Stevens to explore new lineups.
Marcus Smart breaks down as he came back to help his team defeat the Bucks in Game 5.
"[Smart’s return] means a lot for our team," said Horford. "I think I said earlier this year that he was something of the soul of our team, everything he brings – his tenacity, selflessness, just a stubborn player, and we've been giving his energy tonight." 19659006] "I felt like the crowd was fed by it, we ate it, and it's only good to have it back, it was a really nice surprise for our group because I did not think it was I did not want to refresh our hopes even though I heard it was a possibility, we're just happy to get it back and it had a great impact on our team tonight. "
Smart should six to eight weeks after surgery in mid-March fail. His return date slowly crept in. In recent weeks, Smart left for New York on Monday to get his doctor's final clearance to resume contact activities.
When Smart arrived on Tuesday morning in the team's practice facility, his teammates already knew the good news.
"As soon as I got into the locker room, everyone started cheering and clapping," Smart said. "It's just the camaraderie that we have as a team, as a group, we're based on each other, and that's the hallmark of a great team, we have a way to go, but we're still pushing."
Terry Rozier commented How Smart Makes Teammates "Go to War and Battle".
There's Still Something to Do and the Celtics "The first chance to end this series is Thursday night in Milwaukee, the presence of Smart has provided a necessary energy boost, but Boston needs to find a way to increase that defensive intensity No matter if Smart is on the pitch. " (19659006) But Tuesday night It could not have been better for Smart, especially if his mother watched from afar.
"It meant everything to me to be out there, to see me in the square and to play and do what I love Do it," said Smart. "And all the sacrifices she made for me So it was great for me to be out tonight. "