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"He sets the tone; Defensive Player of the Year for a reason!" - Ime Udoka with all the love for Marcus Smart as returning superstar puts up defensive masterclass against Miami Heat, handing Boston Celtics a blowout win

Marcus Smart and Al Horford returned to the lineup for the Boston Celtics in Game Two.
Marcus Smart and Al Horford returned to the lineup for the Boston Celtics in Game Two.
Godwin  Mathew

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka was extremely happy with Marcus Smart's stellar performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals series.

Smart missed Game 1 due to a midfoot sprain, and in his absence, the Celtics crumbled and suffered a 118-107 loss to the Miami Heat on Tuesday. However, he made his presence felt on his return for Game 2 on Thursday.

Smart scored 24 points while grabbing nine rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and one block, helping the Boston Celtics grab a 127-102 win.

Smart has been a vital part of the team's run to the Eastern Conference finals. Udoka certainly has a lot of trust in him, and it has definitely paid off.

Speaking about Smart's terrific performance in Game 2 against the Heat, Udoka said:

"He sets the tone. Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch onto bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at (Jimmy) Butler and (Bam) Adebayo and some of the guys I have to worry about. He brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody in line"
Ime Udoka on Marcus Smart: "He sets the tone. Defensive Player of the Year for a reason."

Marcus Smart has been a part of the Boston Celtics for eight years now. He has been to two Eastern Conference finals and has the experience of playing on the biggest stage.

Although the Celtics also have talented players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the presence of Marcus Smart energizes everyone on the floor.

Marcus Smart was seeing green in Game 2, dropping 24 points and setting a Playoff career-high with 12 dimes to lead the @celtics to the win! #BleedGreen@smart_MS3: 24 PTS, 9 REB, 12 AST, 3 STL, 5 3PM๐Ÿ’Ž Game 3: Saturday, 8:30pm/et on ABC ๐Ÿ’Ž https://t.co/MFzLO7ROSp

Many across the NBA community believed that the Boston Celtics needed someone other than Smart to handle the ball in order to be successful. However, Smart has been proving everyone wrong with his brilliance in the postseason.

Udoka said:

"I'm not the type of coach that wants to call a play every time down. I leave it in his hands, and he usually makes the right decision, understands who to get going, who's hot. He did a great job of that tonight.
"Playing against the closeouts there, heavy load team that flies out on shooters, he did a great job of driving and making that extra pass and getting guys easy shots."
More from Ime Udoka on Marcus Smart: "I'm not the type of coach that wants to call a play every time down. I trust him to make the right play. He does a good job of getting us into stuff, making the right read and finding the hot hand."

Marcus Smart leads the Boston Celtics to a dominant win on the road

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two
Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Two

The Boston Celtics breathed a sigh of relief ahead of tipoff as starters Al Horford and Marcus Smart were cleared to start Game 2.

In their absence, the Celtics looked a shadow of themselves as they gave up 39 points in the third quarter of Game 1, leading to their defeat.

"A little shake and bake" by Marcus Smart โ˜˜๏ธ#NBAConferenceFinals presented by Google Pixel on ESPN https://t.co/4K1FzKBBeQ

Game 2 was crucial for the team, considering that the series is heading to Boston for Games 3 and 4.

The Celtics needed their players to bring their best, and Smart delivered. He did a great job on both ends. His strong performance helped the team take a solid 25-point lead going into halftime.

Horford was also terrific as he scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting. Jayson Tatum had another great game, scoring 27 points, while Jaylen Brown registered 24 points and eight rebounds.

Marcus Smart from behind the backboard ๐Ÿคฏ#NBAConferenceFinals presented by Google Pixel on ESPN https://t.co/ov9DU1WgUf

With the series tied at 1-1, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top at TD Garden in Boston on Saturday.

The Heat have a few injuries they need to worry about. Kyle Lowry is out with a left hamstring injury, while PJ Tucker is recovering from a knee injury. However, considering the depth on their roster, they should be able to field a strong starting lineup for Game 3.


Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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