Marcus Smart belongs in the NHL, which is why he’s invaluable in the NBA. Smart, an enforcer and blood-seeking pit bull, lost his mind during the Boston Celtics’ 113-105 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.
Smart was hoping to escalate verbal jabs into physical jabs between himself and DeAndre' Bembry. Lucky for Smart (and perhaps Bembry), Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon and Celtics’ Jayson Tatum restrained Smart to stop a brawl.
Too far? Almost. Deserving of a suspension? Maybe, considering the act of aggression was his second technical on Saturday.
But let’s go back to the hockey comparison. I’ll quote fictional Icelandish defenseman Olaf Sanderson, nemesis of the Mighty Ducks: “Two minutes? Well worth it.” Two games? Well worth it.
The Celtics played well for the rest of the night. At the time of Smart’s ejection, they were trailing, 76-69, and were playing beneath themselves, something that has been far too common for Boston this season. After the ejection, they went on a 44-29 run to finish the game with a win.
Far too often, the Celtics squabble with one another. Kyrie Irving aims cryptic (or blatant) shots at his teammates. The Celtics, led by a conspiracy theorist (Irving) and intellectual (Jaylen Brown), get caught in their own heads — the team chemistry doesn’t seem to benefit.
It wouldn’t hurt if they aimed their frustration at their opponent, and won a few games in the process. I don’t condone fighting. Smart’s love and ferocity, when applied properly, is electric. Saturday night was another exhibition of what he can do for his team and what a spark of passion can do for the Celtics.