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Ainge On Smart’s Meltdown: He Has To Overcome Emotions To Reach Potential

BOSTON (CBS) — Before the Celtics notched their best win of the season over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, they had one of their worst losses of the season the night before.

Tuesday night in Washington D.C. was a frustrating evening for everyone, but Marcus Smart let his emotions get the best of him. The C’s guard lashed out at his coaches and teammates on the bench late in the fourth quarter, and watched the final moments of the game from the locker room.

Smart apologized to everyone after the game, but was out of the starting five on Wednesday. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked about Smart’s meltdown during his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday, and said the third-year guard needs to keep his emotions in check to reach his full potential.

“Marcus is a very emotional player. We all know that and it’s what we love about him. At the same time he has to be able to not take himself out of the game; not be distracted and let officials or teammates or opponents take him out of the game and lose his mind,” said Ainge. “He knows that and he was very apologetic about it. He’s 22 years old and he has to mature in that regard. But Marcus is a guy who is loved by his teammates because of his passion and energy on the court.

“But for us to be our best and for Marcus to reach his potential, he has to overcome that,” Ainge added.

Ainge doesn’t think all the trash talk ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the Wizards played into Smart losing it, pointing more to the frustrating effort that Boston showed during the 123-108 loss.

“I don’t know what got him out [of his game]. He seemed to be pretty good the first three quarters. I think that can get you off the game, but more than anything he wants to play well, he wants to do well and he wants to win very badly,” he said.

While there is no Kevin Garnett on the roster to keep the younger players grounded at emotional moments, Ainge said there is a group of veterans who they can turn to at times like that.

“Amir Johnson is a very good presence in our locker room. Al Horford is probably the best, and Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas are vocal players in the locker room. They all addressed Marcus, and he knew what he did was wrong,” said Ainge. “After the game, he apologized. He was fine yesterday and had a very good game; he bounced back in the right way and played a big part in helping us get a win.”

Ainge also said that guard Avery Bradley, out with an Achilles injury, is about a week away from a return.

Listen to the full interview below, including Ainge’s thoughts on Paul Pierce’s upcoming final game in Boston:

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