Brad Stevens says it all the time: Marcus Smart makes the big ones.
He did so Tuesday night.
Smart canned a clutch 3-pointer with 4:32 left in Boston’s matchup against Cleveland, and that basket served as the most important one of the game. It pushed the C’s lead from five to eight, but it felt even more significant than that.
It was a back-breaker.
Just a couple of minutes earlier, this contest was a one-possession game, with the C’s leading 94-91. Boston scored the next basket, and then Cleveland had three straight possessions to cut back into its deficit. However, the Cavs misfired on three straight shots, including two attempts from long-distance.
Just seven seconds after the third miss in that sequence, Smart connected on his trey from the top of the arc. Then, 32 seconds after Smart’s trey, Jayson Tatum added on a fast break layup to provide Boston with a 101-91 lead with 4:00 left on the clock.
Cleveland had hung tough all night to that point despite the fact that it was missing multiple key players. However, it didn’t have enough juice to overcome a 10-point deficit against the talented Celtics with less than four minutes left in the game.
Boston made just enough plays down the stretch to close out with the 103-96 win. The C’s can thank Smart for canning that critical 3-pointer that gave them the momentum they needed to grab the win.
As Stevens always says: Smart makes the big ones.
Jayson Tatum got a chance to be the top dog for Boston’s offense Tuesday night as the C’s played without the services of Kyrie Irving. Tatum capitalized on the opportunity by putting forth one of his most impressive scoring nights of the season.
Tatum finished the contest with a team-best 25 points that were scored on – get this – only six made field goals. The second-year forward was able to pile on the points by getting to the free-throw line and cashing in on his attempts, as he set new career highs for both free throw makes (12) and attempts (12). He shot 6-for-13 from the field overall.
In addition to the scoring, Tatum filled the box score in many other ways. He tied for the team lead in both rebounds (seven) and blocked shots (three). To round out his line, he finished with two assists and a steal during his 34-plus minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Two reserves, Gordon Hayward and Semi Ojeleye, led Boston in plus/minus rating with marks of plus-10.
- Hayward scored 18 points off the bench to go along with six rebounds and five assists.
- Jayson Tatum and Al Horford each blocked three shots.
- Tatum shot 12-for-12 from the free-throw line and led Boston with 25 points.
- Collin Sexton scored a game-high 27 points.
- Cleveland outscored Boston 22-4 in second-chance points.
- Marcus Smart shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range while scoring 17 points.
- Ante Zizic and Larry Nance Jr. tied for the game's top rebounding total with 12 apiece.
- Boston blocked 10 shots, while Cleveland blocked none.
- Both teams made nine 3-pointers.
- Boston's bench combined to shoot 15-of-22 from the field.
Quote of the Night
That was very clear right out of the first play of the game ... He was going at the rim all night, and I thought that was good.
Brad Stevens on Jayson Tatun's aggressiveness.