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Marcus Smart shines despite Eastern Conference Finals loss

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Smart’s effort helped bring Boston within one game of the NBA Finals, yet it wasn’t enough as the Celtics fall to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics were showered with “Let’s Go Celtics” chants from the home crowd after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season.

Many causal and passionate fans alike wrote the Boston Celtics off after losing Kyrie Irving, on top of already missing Gordon Hayward, for the season. Their unlikely postseason run was fueled by young stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier III, and was led by veteran Al Horford. Their postseason run would not have been possible if not brought together by their “glue guy” and former Cowboy Marcus Smart.

Smart shot 1-for-10 with only 4 points and 7 assists in the final game. Despite that, Smart was one of only two Celtics with a positive plus-minus rating at +2. In typical Marcus Smart fashion, he made winning play after winning play down the stretch, but the Celtics couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities he created.

Game 7 went exactly how Smart predicted, as the Cavs beat the Celtics 87-79. The Celtics scored 26 of their 79 points in the first quarter. After the first quarter, the moment appeared to be to large for these young Celtics. The stage was not too big for LeBron James, who has been in this position plenty of times before in his career. Smart drew two charges on James in the first half, setting the physical tone early, but that was not enough to rattle James as he exploded for 35 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. This isn’t surprising to anyone who knows anything about the NBA, but impressive nonetheless.

Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer, leaving Celtics GM Danny Ainge with a potential sticky situation. Ainge has expressed an interest in trying to retain both Smart and third-year player Terry Rozier, who will become a free agent the following summer. With the current cap, Ainge would have to plunge deep into the luxury tax to resign both and keep the rest of his core of young players and superstars together.

If this was Smart’s last game in a Celtics uniform, Boston fans will always remember him for his tough defense and game-altering hustle. Celtics fans on Twitter came up with the notion that Smart is brought into the game to establish discipline as a meme, but quickly realized that they weren’t wrong. Now the statement is only a half-meme, and is routinely used when an opposing team goes on a run while Smart is on the bench.

If Smart returns, and Ainge would be smart to bring him back next season, he will be on a team adding two superstars that almost made the NBA Finals without them. The Boston Celtics will be back, and they will be dangerous. In the meantime, Smart will come home to the DFW area to host his summer basketball camp at Flower Mound Marcus High School. Smart’s restricted free agency will begin on July 1, and he will hopefully #securethebag not long after. Wherever Smart ends up next season, you can count on him establishing discipline at all times.

Congratulations on a hell of season and good luck in free agency, Marcus. We’re proud to call you a fellow Cowboy.