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May 29, 2022

Marcus Smart

Boston Celtics

Game 7: Postgame

Celtics 100, Heat 96

Q. You've been through a lot the last eight years in Boston. I'm curious what was going through your mind as the buzzer sounded?

MARCUS SMART: Oh, man, just finally. To be able to get over that hump and have a chance to make it to the NBA Finals. This is every athlete's dream is to get to that final stage and have an opportunity. I've been here four years in the Eastern Conference Finals, and I've been sent home every year after. It feels really good, and it feels really good for Jayson and Jaylen. We've been together for the longest -- even Al, man. Al, just happy for him. He played all these games, and he works his tail off. He deserves it more than any of us, so it was just a great feeling.

Q. What was going through your mind when Jimmy went down and pulled up for that three with 17 to go?

MARCUS SMART: Not again. Man, Jimmy has been playing well, so when he pulled up, it was kind of like, oh, man. Just hope he doesn't make it. I just think our defense wore on him, and he had got a good look from a great player and missed it, and we came out victorious, so we're thankful for that.

Q. Your core group of players has been through a lot together. You've had arguments, publicized arguments, you've had big losses, you had a .500 season. How did that journey shape you guys? How did you stay together through that, and how rewarding is it now to be to The Finals with the same group?

MARCUS SMART: It's huge for us. Like you said, we've been through a lot. Literally blood, sweat and tears. Every year we've been in this situation, like I said, and we had to sit there and look ourselves in the mirror, and it had to hurt, and it did.

For us, it was just we wanted to come out here and make sure that that didn't happen again, and we did it, like I said. All the years we've been through early on in the season, all the things we went through early on, the adversity, really allowed us to come here in Game 7 and do what we do. I think our road record is better than our home record, and that just shows the resilience that we have. That we can come into somebody's building and tear it up. That's what it's all about, man. This core group of guys, the guys that's on the bench, this coaching staff, this whole organization, they trusted us, and they allowed us to fix it and work it out, and we've grown from it, and it's definitely helped us in the long run.

Q. Marcus, you talk about Al coming back this year, you, Jaylen, Jayson were around early in your careers. What kind of boost was it him coming back? Can you describe how that boosted this group? What works for him as a leader with you guys?

MARCUS SMART: He's selfless. Al could care less about the numbers, he cares about the wins and this team. When he came back, that gave us a sense of security. We got Al back there, he's always going to make the right play on both ends, he's going to calm us down, he's going to show us what we missed, and he's going to help us learn the game even more.

We appreciate everything that he brings to this game, his mentality, his professionalism, and that's the big part for us, the way he comes in every day to work. We look up to that, and we try to implicate that into our lives and into our game.

Q. You've been hurt pretty much every playoff run of your career. This one has been pretty bad. What have you been fighting through throughout the series and what was that extra thing you had to dig down and find inside of you to continue to be important to this game at the very end?

MARCUS SMART: Man, my whole right side is a little banged up on my leg. I have the quad injury, I have the foot injury, and then I have the ankle injury. I'm not the only one, but it's definitely been tough. But my teammates just kept telling me, we don't care how hurt you are, we need you. 65, 70 percent of you is better than none of you, so give us everything you can, we'll help you and pick up everything that we can that you can't. That's what I wanted to go out there and do. My ankle was hurting pretty bad tonight to the point where I came out I think in the first quarter to tighten up my ankle brace, and all I just remember is those guys just telling me, listen, forget about it, play through it, we need it, just keep it going, and that really stuck with me.

It's Game 7, I've been here four times and never got across the hump. For me it was, I can't let this happen again, and that's what it came down to, so I just wanted to go out there and make sure I left everything on the court.

Q. You guys have talked a lot about the resilience that you have; where does that come from in your opinion?

MARCUS SMART: Everything we've been through, individually, together, in our basketball lives, outside of our basketball lives.

We've been through a lot together. We bring it all. We don't hold anything back from each other. I think that's the beauty of it.

I think that growth is inevitable when you do things like that, when you bleed and you sweat and you cry together, it's only right that you build together to get to something great, and that's to get over this hump for us.

And then on top of that you've got a coach who embodies everything that we embody, and he kind of puts it on you to let you know that, hey, I'm not taking no slack, and if you don't like it, then you can get up out of here, and that's the type of group we are. We don't want to be babied. We're growth men, we're professionals and we want to be treated like that, and he comes in and he does that, and that helps us a lot.

Q. My question was going to be about Ime. First-year head coach, three elimination games in the last three series, you've won all of them, two of them on the road. You mentioned some of it right there, but just behind a first-year head coach, what's that been like?

MARCUS SMART: It's been fun. He's taught us things that we could learn and we taught him things. We knew that him being his first time, it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to be hard. That's just how it is, and that's just the team we are, and that's the mentality we picked up from him. He did not want it to be easy. He didn't ask for it, he didn't cry about the circumstances. He didn't cry about where we were in the standings early on in this year. He just stayed on us to keep going. When you've got a coach like that, it's kind of hard not to follow because you don't want to be that guy that's the one, oh, man, here we go, we this, we this, when everybody else is moving forward. I'm just happy for him. His first year to be able to get to the Eastern Conference Finals after the beginning of the year we had and then get past the Eastern Conference Finals, man, it's amazing.

Q. Obviously still have a road ahead of you against a team like the Warriors, but when you look back at beating the Nets and beating the defending champs and now beating the No. 1 team on the road in Game 7, what sticks out in your mind as far as the challenging you've overcome specifically and the opponents you've taken down?

MARCUS SMART: That no matter what adversity is put in front of us, no obstacle, no loop, we're going to get through it, we're going to get over it, we're going to get around it. That was just how we live our lives on the court. We really, truly believe that. We know we're going up against a great team with the Warriors, great players, great organization. They have the track record to prove it. They know exactly what it takes. They've been here. They're vets. We know we've got a long road in front of us, but we're up for the challenge.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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