What Marcus Smart told Celtics on bench after brutal third quarter originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
What do you tell your teammates after watching them play their worst quarter of postseason basketball in five years?
Marcus Smart was sidelined for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a mid-foot sprain, so he could only watch as the Miami Heat ripped off a 22-2 run to start the second half and outscored the Celtics 39-14 in the third quarter.
But after Boston's eight-point halftime lead became a 17-point deficit entering the fourth quarter, Smart felt the need to speak up. ESPN's cameras showed the veteran guard delivering a passionate speech to Celtics players on the bench after the third quarter.
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What was Smart's message to the group?
"Just have heart," Celtics guard Payton Pritchard said after the game. "He was telling us to compete and get after it. We were kind of playing soft for a little bit. So, that's pretty much it."
The Heat overwhelmed the Celtics in the third quarter, racking up six steals and five blocks while forcing Boston to commit eight turnovers -- all of which came from Jayson Tatum (six turnovers) and Jaylen Brown (two).
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka agreed with Smart's sentiment after the game.
"Got out-physicaled, got out-toughed," Udoka said. “(Miami) looked like they came out in the second half and wanted to up their physicality and aggression on both ends, and they did that. I don’t think we obviously responded well on either end of the floor."
The Celtics responded relatively well to Smart's message, outscoring the Heat 31-25 in the fourth quarter. But it was too little too late for Boston, which fell into a 1-0 series hold after a 118-107 loss at FTX Arena.
The Celtics pride themselves on defense and effort, but so do the Heat, who beat the C's at their own game to steal Game 1. The Celtics will need to do a much better job taking care of the ball if they want to win Game 2 on Thursday night.
Smart's availability could play a key role on that front, as Boston's starting point guard committed just two turnovers total over the final two games of the East semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks.