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Marcus Smart “was born with his hands dirty.” And he’ll do anything to help the Boston Celtics win. – The Denver Post

Marcus Smart “was born with his hands dirty.” And he’ll do anything to help the Boston Celtics win. – The Denver Post

BOSTON — Marcus Smart doesn’t care about the effect the hardwood can have on human flesh. He plays with the abandon of a hair-on-fire stuntman for his Boston Celtics, diving then crashing to the floor while pursuing a loose ball.

His bandaged right wrist should serve as a reminder of recent surgery, but that does not seem to cross Smart’s mind when he belly-flops onto the leather shoes of the Cleveland Cavaliers coaches.

On Tuesday night — as the Celtics took control of the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the Cavaliers, 107-94, for a two-games-to-none series lead and home court advantage — Smart created one of his signature moments.

During the fourth quarter, Smart poked the ball away from Cavaliers forward Jeff Green then launched himself to the sideline to save the possession. The Cleveland bench complained that Smart was out of bounds, but the play went on. After creating an uprising among his rivals, Smart simply returned to his feet and rushed back into the breakneck action in which he thrives in.

Smart performed as a tone-setter, finishing with an all-around line of 11 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals.

“He’s always going to play hard,” Celtics guard Terry Rozier commended.

“That’s what Smart does, man. Smart was born with his hands dirty,” forward Jaylen Brown praised.

“He does anything that the team needs to win,” backup big man Greg Monroe crowed.

The interpretation of “anything” also means mixing it up when necessary. Later in the fourth quarter, Al Horford thought he had a breakaway layup but Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith shoved him with two hands, sending the Celtics center to the floor.

Smart remembered the first-round playoff series against the Cavaliers three years ago when Smith elbowed former teammate Jae Crowder. And this year, the Celtics hadn’t had the best of luck with guys falling after midair collisions — for instance, Gordon Hayward, lost for the season in the year’s first six minutes of action. Smart, who later described Smith’s actions against Horford as “dirty,” reacted impulsively, shoving Smith, who shoved back. Both drew technical fouls.

“They’re helpless,” Smart said of players driving to the rim. “They can’t protect themselves. We’re out there to play basketball. We’re not out there trying to hurt anybody. That’s just a play that you just don’t do.”

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