Butler gave some advice to the Celtics after Heat’s Game 1 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics played a fantastic first half against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night, and Marcus Smart was the conductor of the performance.
The veteran point guard had 10 assists with only one turnover in the first two quarters as Boston went into halftime with a 66-57 lead.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for that guy and what he does on the defensive side of the ball and for sure what he does on the offensive side of the ball, because he plays his role to the T,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said postgame when asked about Smart. “We are going to have to lock in on that. Ten in a half is some pretty good basketball.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, it all fell apart in the third quarter as the Heat began to dominate and outscored Boston 46-25 in the frame. The C’s made it interesting for a while in the fourth quarter but Miami never relinquished its lead over the final 12 minutes and held on for a 123-116 victory at TD Garden.
Smart had three assists in the second half, giving him 13 assists and two turnovers in 34 minutes total. Malcolm Brogdon ended up playing more than Smart. He scored 19 points with two rebounds and one assist in 37 minutes.
POSTGAME POD: Catastrophic third quarter costs Celtics in Game 1 loss to Heat | Listen & Subscribe
Smart found a good balance in the first half between running the offense and looking for his own shot. The Celtics were firing on all cylinders as a result. Should they have leaned on Smart more in the second half? Yes. Should they look to do that in Game 2? Butler thinks so.
“I think he played well all game long,” Butler said of Smart. “He was making all the right plays and they made a lot of shots. He defended incredibly well. Made shots, too. I think they will watch film and see that they probably have to utilize him more. I would.”
Smart should have played more in the second half for several reasons, but especially for defense on Butler. Butler had 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting when guarded by Brogdon or Derrick White in Game 1. Butler scored just two points on eight possessions when guarded by Smart.
Brogdon played 20:02 in the second half, while Smart received 15:38 of playing time during that span. Those numbers should be flipped in Game 2. The Celtics need Smart’s playmaking and elite defense in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line.