Smart's stellar Game 2 play draws Cavs' praise


BOSTON -- On a night when Marcus Smart did all the typical Marcus Smart things -- diving into the crowd to save a loose ball, standing up for a teammate after a hard foul, making a timely steal when his team needed it most -- everyone from his teammates to LeBron James gushed about the impact he has when he's on the court.
The Celtics improved to 8-2 since Smart returned from thumb surgery late in Boston's first-round triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks, and his combination of hustle, grit and toughness has moved Boston to two wins away from an improbable trip to the NBA Finals.
Smart finished with 11 points on a mere 3-of-9 shooting but added nine assists, five rebounds and four steals over 31 minutes in Boston's 107-94 triumph in Game 2 at TD Garden. Smart was a team-best plus-21 overall in plus/minus.
Those numbers can't quantify some of his most impactful moments.
"He was born with his hands dirty," Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown said. "I'm just happy he's on our side. Today was a tremendous effort on one of the biggest stages we've all played on. I commend Smart for coming with that hard hat that he always has."