Celtics Take Down Pistons Thanks to Marcus Smart’s Daredevil Assist

Marcus Smart made a play on Saturday night that will register in the box score as a rebound and a missed field goal attempt. Ironically, the best assist of the night does not count as an assist. Al Horford appeared after Smart catapulted himself through a crowd, landing awkwardly on the side of his neck and head in the process. Horford flipped the ball off the glass with a second remaining, leading the Celtics to a 94–92 victory over Detroit.

Here are some words to help paint the Marcus Smart portrait (my favorites are in bold, thanks to Merriam-Webster’s):

daredevil

Synonyms

audacious, brash, foolhardy, madcap, overbold, overconfident, reckless, temerarious

Antonyms

careful, cautious, circumspect, guarded, heedful, prudent, safe, wary

Related Words

adventuresome, adventurous, bold, daring, venturesome, venturous; brave, courageous, dauntless, doughty, fearless, gallant, greathearted, gutsy, hardy, heroic, intrepid, lionhearted

Here are the extended highlights:

The win is the 7th of Boston’s season, nudging them over the .500 mark. With 69 games remaining, the win will most likely get lost in the shuffle of the NBA season. Casual fans start paying close attention in February or March.

Here’s why it felt like an important victory: Al Horford (concussion symptoms which lingered much longer than anyone seemed to anticipate) hadn’t suited up since October 29th. Jae Crowder (severe ankle sprain) was out for 8 games and the second half of the November 2nd matchup with Chicago. A victory in their return brings a morale boost to a team that needed one. The fact that it came over a Pistons team that was unbeaten at home (5–0) coming in, makes it that much sweeter.

Crowder is one of the most impactful NBA players on a current roster unlikely to ever make an All-Star team. Crowder came to Boston with a versatile skill-set, but without much range. Though he’s worked hard enough to be a decent shooter (remember his ankle injury impacted his % over the last month of 2015–16 and in the playoffs), Jae’s influence on a game is seen in hustle, confidence, and the balance he provides. Crowder’s ability to defend three positions boosts his impact, and his consistent ability to come through in fourth quarter situations gives fans a sense of reliability unseen in the clutch. Excluding the indomitable Isaiah, of course. Good teams become great teams when they can win close games in which they don’t play their best. Last year, Crowder finished 26th in the NBA in ESPN’s real plus-minus. Horford finished 22nd.

Despite the absence of two of their three most important players, the Celtics salvaged wins over Chicago, New York, Indiana (minus Paul George) and Dallas (minus Dirk). The only loss that was any kind of surprise was the last-second (106–105) L in New Orleans. In that game, the Celtics shot 12–41 from deep, inluding a rusty 1 of 7 from Olynyk. Still, Boston is 7–6 after 13 games because of these reasons:

Upcoming games:

Monday 11/21 @ Minnestota (8pm)

Thibodeau’s bunch have had their share of lost leads early in the year. As one would expect from a team of under-25 players who are trying to figure out a new system and have a relentless coach with high defensive expectations. Why would one expect that? Let downs happen when a team isn’t used to the sustained defensive effort of 48 minutes. The Baby Wolves (4–8) have lost by a pair of close games, and the rest of their games have been blow-outs. Recently, Wiggins exploded for 47 against the Lakers. The Wolves will tease fans with potential this year. Next year, they will be playoff-worthy.

Wednesday 11/23 @ Brooklyn (730pm)

The Nets looked surprisingly not-awful for the few games, going 4–5. Looking closer, those wins were not quality, other than Detroit. They’ve been obliterated in four of their last six. Not surprisingly, those came with Jeremy Lin in streetclothes, nursing a hamstring issue.

Friday 11/25 vs San Antonio (1pm)

This is the one I’m excited about. Unfortunately, its a matinee, which probably means a sloppy first half. The day after Thanksgiving, and its a matinee? I suppose the schedulers were trying to make early flights possible during the day after the whole league is off (Thursday). Watching Kawhi Leonard is one of the NBA’s special treats.

***

Here’s the crazy ending to the win at Detroit, with a great play-by-play from two Chinese commentators.

Writing. Poetry. Personal Essays. On the NBA, MLB, media, journalism, culture, teaching and humor.

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