In an 11-second span early in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Wizards, Marcus Smart committed two turnovers and two fouls.
So, he went to the bench.
But it wasn’t Brad Stevens’ call.
Smart, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
“I decided to take myself out; things were going wrong,” Smart said after Monday’s practice. “I was making a couple of mistakes and everybody else was playing good. So, I decided to take myself out, let those guys keep going and calm myself down.”
“I know I can’t make those mistakes,” Smart said. “Just wanted to take myself out, get myself together and cheer my team on. Those dudes were rolling and keeping it going. I didn’t want to mess up the groove. Just wanted to re-gather myself and get ready when Brad calls me back in.”
Smart said it wasn’t the first time he took himself out of a game.
“I know myself,” Smart said. “It’s better to just come out, get you a quick breather, gather yourself than to keep in there and keep getting frustrated and make the same mistakes.”
“Some people probably think it was a little selfish of me, to think I was mad at myself but it really wasn’t,” Smart said. “I just felt like at that moment, we were up and my plays with the two turnovers, back-to-back and fouling the three-point shooter, something we all know you’re not supposed to do and he gets the and-one and they get a rhythm.
Smart added, “I just felt that at that time and for the team, I wasn’t doing anything to help.”
This was like a heat check, but applied oppositely. Smart believe that because bad things happened, bad things would continue to happen. Just as a player making a few shots doesn’t mean he’ll continue to make shots, it often doesn’t work that way.
Smart sat for 40 seconds and then returned for an ineffective few minutes. Jaylen Brown replaced him and helped Boston to the win.
On one hand, I applaud Smart for realizing he needed to calm himself. At that moment, leaving the game was probably best for him and his team.
But the fact that it was necessary is a problem. Smart too often loses his composure during games.
Smart played well overall in Game 1, and the Celtics could lean heavily on him throughout the series. At some point, they’ll need him to help them on the court even after he has made a couple errors in succession.