Marcus-Squared Leads C's to Energetic Win Over T-Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS - The name "Marcus" and the word "energy" must be synonymous with one another, because Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart have been two invaluable life forces for the Boston Celtics recently. Thursday night's game in Minnesota was the latest example, as Morris provided a scoring burst and two-way versatility, while Smart provided grit and hustle.
Together, the Marcuses helped lead Boston's second unit to a 42-20 advantage over the Timberwolves' reserves, which ultimately helped push the C's to a 117-109 win at Target Center.
Morris started things off for the Celtics with a first-quarter, offensive eruption. He came off the bench and scored nine consecutive points for the Celtics during a span of just two minutes and 18 seconds to help the C's build an early lead.
The veteran forward was happy to get the team going in the scoring department, but he believes his other contributions were just as valuable to the win, if not more.
"It's not even about scoring," he said after his 17-point, five-rebound effort. "It's about making plays, being able to be a versatile defender, being able to move to the 3 sometimes. It's helpful for the team."
While Morris did a fantastic job defending Minnesota's frontcourt, he also gave them nightmares on the other end of the court with his offensive versatility. He seamlessly switched between the 3 and 4 positions, while scoring from all areas of the floor.
"Marcus (Morris) is a hard guy to guard at the 3 because he can use his size, but then at the 4 he spaces the floor so well," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "It has been a little bit of a change for him (playing mostly the 4) because he hadn't played it in a while; he played most the 3 in Detroit. So, playing mostly the 4 here probably took more time to get used to, but he's in a good groove right now."
The whole Celtics team was in a good groove Thursday night, and much of that had to do with the contagious contributions from the other Marcus.
With nine points and six assists, Smart may not have filled up the stat sheet in the manner that Morris did, but he played with a constant tenacity that was infections for his teammates. The fourth-year guard put his body on the line multiple times, diving for loose balls and providing physical defense against players of all different positions and sizes.
He knows that those types of plays won't give him any glory in the box score, but frankly, he couldn't care less about personal stats.
"That's how I was taught to play," Smart said of his willingness to sacrifice his body for the team. "I'm a winner. I'm not really about the accolades. I'm here to win. And if that's what it's going to take for my team to win, then I'm going to do it."
There was one hustle play, however, that did show up in the stat sheet for Smart. It came in the form of an electrifying, put-back dunk during the second quarter that put Boston ahead 51-37. Sure, it just accounted for just two points, but those were two very loud points that helped set the tone from an energetic standpoint.
MARCUS SMART WITH THE FLEX— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) March 9, 2018
(and Kyrie's lovin' it) pic.twitter.com/tQidwclEPW
"It just raises our moral and our awareness of how valuable he is when he's out there," said Kyrie Irving, who rose up off the bench in disbelief when Smart slammed home the soaring, highlight-reel jam. "Regardless of what his scoring numbers are, he's always trying to put our team in a great position to win."
Both Marcuses put the Celtics in a great position to win Thursday night, and as a result, they flew home to Boston with a successful, 2-1 road trip under their belts.