BOSTON (CBS) — After the Celtics fell into an 0-2 hole to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, Marcus Smart let his teammate know that their play — all of their play — was unacceptable. It turned into a full-on locker room brouhaha that made it seem as though the team was falling apart.
But that was not the case. It instead inspired the Celtics to go out and have one of their finest performances this postseason in a 117-106 win Saturday night. Smart was one of four players to score 20 points that evening, as the Celtics used a well-balanced attack and some stellar defense to cool off the Heat and get back into the series.
Talking for the first time since his locker room blowup on Monday, Smart said their heated discussions were “electrifying” to the team.
“We’re a family and families fight all the time. I fight with my brothers all the time. At the end of the day we can fight with each other but no one else can,” said Smart. “It happens with families, especially one like ours that has been together for such a long time.
“We have guys who play with their hearts on their sleeves night in and night out. We shouldn’t have been happy after going down 0-2,” he continued. “Of course emotions are going to fly, but we’re a family and that happens.”
Given Saturday night’s performance, reports that the team was “imploding” appear to be premature. Smart was confident that the team would use their rather loud discussions after blowing a double-digit lead in Game 2 to their benefit, and that’s exactly how it played out Saturday night.
“I knew what type of guys we were and the type of team we have; Emotional, passionate and that we all loved each other. I learned that myself and a lot of teammates grew up even more through that adversity. Before you see the rainbow, it has to storm, and that was the storm we had to go through,” he said poetically. “For us to be able to respond and have that growth, it showed a lot.
“The fact we were able to have those conversations in the locker room let me know we were going to be alright and get back on the right track,” he added. “After two straight losses, it would have been a problem if emotions weren’t high after the game.”
Though reports had it getting fairly heated between Smart and Jaylen Brown, Smart’s teammates knew exactly what he was doing. Smart is as passionate and fiery off the court as he is on it, and players knew that everything he was saying after Game 2 came from the heart.
“He’s our heart and soul,” Grant Williams said of Smart on Monday. “He’s the guy who keeps us going and inspired. He’s our dog, we have to follow his lead.”
The Celtics are now back in the series following their spirited win on Saturday night, but have to wait until Wednesday to try to even things up against Miami. But that extra waiting around is adding more fire to their desire.
“We’re the team down 2-1, so that’s something we have to live with and that’s eating at us for the next couple of days. For us, that’s more motivation and fuel to get ready for Game 4 and to keep the momentum alive,” said Smart. “We’ve seen it before with us; going up 2-0 against Toronto and instead of closing out Game 3 they hit a buzzer beater. The next night out we blew them out. I’m not saying that’s going to happen next game, but the longer we have to sit here, knowing we’re down 2-1, it’s more fuel to the fire.”