Smart talk plans

“I want a team in Vegas”

Boston Celtics goaltender Marcus Smart underscored how bumpy the run so far is what makes his team so unified, after he produced a near-perfect defensive fourth quarter to defeat the Golden State Warriors 116-110 in the third game of the NBA Finals.

The win gives the Celtics a 2-1 series lead, with a chance to go up 3-1 by holding home serve in Game 4.

In the process, the Celtics core of Smart, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown became the first line since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Cooper in 1984 to all have at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game. of final.

The Celtics needed to rise from the canvas after a Golden State Warriors third quarter saw them recover from a 12-point halftime deficit to take an 83-82 lead with just under four minutes to play in the third.

In response, the Celtics held the Warriors to just 11 points in the fourth quarter, completely ending one of the most dynamic offenses in league history to secure the home win.

Smart, who has been criticized for trying to get too involved in the Celtics’ offense while neglecting his point guard duties, credited his star teammates for helping him believe in his own scoring ability.

“The ‘Jays’ – Jayson and Jaylen – did a really good job of encouraging me to be aggressive on the offensive side,” he said. “And really understanding that for me, in this team, I have to be aggressive to help us win.”

Smart’s relationship with the ‘Jays’ goes beyond basketball, and he said it took time to grow, as well as difficult conversations, for the trio to become what they are today. .

“First of all, it’s a family here,” he said. “I grew up with the Jays.

“I played five years with Jaylen, four years with Jayson. When my mother passed away…they all came to the funeral, so we already had that bond.

“At the start of the season for us, it’s like for your brothers and sisters.

“You get into it, you bicker, you get mad at each other – and then the next day you laugh, you talk, you hug…you give each other their roses, and that’s what is this team.

“It started off rough for us, but that’s what helped us get to where we are now. We had to weather the storm to see the rainbow at the end.

“For me, I had to look at myself in the mirror. With my teammates, we had to have a heart to heart, we had to sit down and have this tough conversation, and understand that what we’re saying is to help each other.

“It’s nothing bad, it’s nothing personal, it’s to help us get to where we want to be. It’s crazy, we’re here, and no one thought we’d be here… but we stuck with that, and that’s why I’m proud of this team, and that’s what makes us who we are.”

The Celtics have done a lot of soul-searching this season, and they did again after a demoralizing loss in Game 2, but Smart said he was determined not to let the Warriors “bully” his team.

“We pride ourselves on being a physical team, and for us, [Game 2] left a bad taste in your mouth,” he said.

“Coming out of game 2 hearing and knowing we got beat. It’s like anybody else, if you’re fighting a bully or whatever, you gotta keep going, you gotta keep going. get up.”

Asked if he felt like the Celtics were fighting with a bully, Smart replied: “We definitely are, we have the Golden State Warriors, who have done this many times before, and they understand. what it’s like to be here.

“We’re this little guy who’s new to school, and they want to see exactly what you got. They came out and punched us in the mouth in Game 2, and we responded.

“We watched the movie – and it was an unpleasant movie session for us. It was ugly, we had to sit down and watch the whole movie.

“You have to look in the mirror and pull yourself together. Coming out today, it wasn’t about ‘are we going to be physical’ – it was ‘how physical are we going to be’.”