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#pounditWednesday, August 17, 2022

Heat had clear game plan with Marcus Smart out

Marcus Smart stares ahead

Aug 4, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) warms up before the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Visa Athletic Center in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, and they did so by taking full advantage of a key player being out.

Marcus Smart did not play in the game due to a foot injury. Smart is an excellent defender, and the Celtics missed him. As Bob Voulgaris noted, the Heat made a big adjustment in the second half and ran 10 pick-and-roll plays where reserve guard Payton Pritchard was the screen defender. The plan worked to perfection.

Boston led 62-54 at the half, but the Heat pulled away late in the third quarter en route to a comfortable 118-107 victory. Both Smart and Al Horford (COVID protocols) missed the game, but Smart’s absence clearly hurt more.

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