addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
DALLAS – What is it that an NBA star is made of?
Grit. Fight. Will. Determination.
A star possesses game-changing abilities. He makes a major impact at both ends of the court.
He can, in essence, take over.
It appears that the Boston Celtics may have a future star within their ranks, and his name is Marcus Smart.
Smart, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, finished Monday night’s 118-113 loss in Dallas with seven points, six rebounds, three assists, a steal and a blocked shot. Nothing about that line screams “star potential,” but everything about his performance does.
If you watched him play on Monday, particularly during the fourth quarter, you just know. You know he has it inside of him.
Smart didn’t just make plays Monday night. He made eye-popping plays; game-changing plays.
Marcus Smart made an impact on both ends of the floor when the game mattered most.
Did you see him soar through the air over Richard Jefferson midway through the fourth quarter, only to grab Jeff Green’s miss with one hand and kiss a putback off of the glass all in one motion?
Did you see him draped all over Jameer Nelson less than a minute later, using flawless defense to force the former All-Star into a desperation heave that Smart himself swatted away to one of his teammates?
Did you see him corral another offensive rebound in traffic and, in an instant, flip a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Jared Sullinger to make it a four-point game with 4:15 left on the clock?
Did you see him stare former league MVP, former Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star and 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki right in the eyes and can a corner 3 to make it a 3-point game at the 3:37 mark?
These were highlight-reel plays, happening at the most critical juncture of the game. Watching them unfold in real-time was stunning. Absolutely stunning.
Smart was everywhere. He did everything. It truly felt like there were several of him on the court.
Brad Stevens has commended Smart on multiple occasions for his unique ability to raise the energy level of his teammates. He did that Monday night, all the while making the Mavericks and their fans gasp for air. He nearly pulled Boston over the hump to what would have been a surreal 31-point comeback victory.
Some will ask where Smart’s impact was the rest of the night. Others will wonder why Smart was unable to push the Celtics into the winner’s circle in crunch time. The smart ones, to use a perfectly appropriate pun, will put more stock into this rookie’s overall performance.
Smart showed grit, fight, will and determination.
Smart changed the game by making an impact at both ends.
Even if only for a quarter, he took over, and he looked every bit the part of a future NBA star.