Celtics-Heat takeaways: Smart continues to shine in C's win


The Boston Celtics blew out the top-seeded Miami Heat on Monday night for their fourth win in their last five games.

Jaylen Brown (29 pts) and Jayson Tatum (20 pts, 12 reb) stayed hot for the C's while Marcus Smart (16 pts, 7 ast) continued his torrid stretch. 

With Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker all out, ex-Celtic Max Strus led Miami with 27 points. Caleb Martin added 14, and Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo contributed 13 and 12, respectively.

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Each of the Celtics' last four wins have been by double digits with three of them coming by more than 30 points. This was their fifth 30-point win of the season thus far.

Here are three instant takeaways from the Celtics' 122-92 win, which brings them to 27-25 on the campaign. They'll host the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

Marcus Smart continues to shine

It's no coincidence that the Celtics have looked like a completely different team since Smart returned to the lineup. They're 4-1 over that span and Smart is a +118.

Most of Smart's production has come as a facilitator. The veteran has made a statement ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline that he deserves to be the team's starting point guard going forward. That was the case again Monday night as he finished with seven assists, including this sweet no-look dime to Robert Williams.

Smart also notched 16 points and shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range. With Dennis Schroder (four points in 17 minutes) struggling, the picture at point guard is beginning to look much clearer for Boston.

Another big day for the Jays

Remember when Brown and Tatum were taking criticism for not playing well together? Well, they've certainly looked like a legitimate All-Star tandem lately.

After combining for 69 points in Saturday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Brown and Tatum led Boston with 29 and 20 points, respectively. Brown hit 11 of his 19 shots and was a +28.

Tatum's 20 points don't jump off the page, but the 23-year-old was a game-high +30 and added 12 rebounds for the double-double. He also continues to impress as a passer with five assists on Monday night and an average of 5.8 assists over his last five games.

In that five-game span, Tatum also is averaging 33.4 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 56.4% from the floor (44.6 3PT%). He now leads the NBA with a total of 1,250 points scored this season.

Looking ahead

The Celtics have a chance to make up some serious ground in the Eastern Conference standings. They currently hold a ninth-place spot (tied with the No. 8 seed Toronto Raptors) as they prepare for Wednesday night's meeting with the seventh-place Hornets (28-23).

After that, they'll have back-to-back road games against cellar dwellers in the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. They wrap up the trip in Brooklyn where they'll take on a Nets team that has lost four straight without superstar Kevin Durant in the lineup. The trade deadline comes two days after that on Thurs., Feb. 10.

Boston has been frustratingly inconsistent all season, but this upcoming stretch serves as an opportunity for redemption. All four games over the next week -- especially those two must-have games against Detroit and Orlando -- will say a lot about whether this team has officially turned a corner.

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