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As his team battles for a spot in the NBA Finals, Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart will have to do his best to stay focused on basketball when he’s on the court.

ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg reported that Smart’s mother, Camellia, was recently diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and began chemotherapy treatments on Monday. But rather than have her son be distracted, she wants the Cleveland Cavaliers to be the only thing on Marcus’ mind.

Smart opened up to Forsberg about the situation:

“It’s tough. I’m not going to lie, it is tough. I’m professional; we have a job to do. And that’s something about my mom, she’s real big on, ‘I’m going to be OK, go handle what you gotta do. And I’m going to be all right.’ That gives me a little comfort to go out there and not really feel guilty of being here instead of there with her.

“But it is tough. It’s tough, but I have a great support [system] around me.”

Smart had nine points and six assists in a 108-83 Game 1 victory on Sunday, shooting just 4-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range.

By the time he got back to his locker at TD Garden after the game, he already had a voicemail from his mom.

“My whole family was actually watching. They all went over the house,” Smart sald. “It was good to hear everybody. When she called me, the smile and joy that she had in her voice lit up my day.”

It’s easy to forget that athletes are human and deal with the realities of life off the court just the way fans do. Smart admitted that it’s tough to keep his mind clear as his mom undergoes three sessions of chemotherapy per week. He did, however, reveal that “she’s doing well.”

Smart himself only just recently returned to the court after missing more than a month due to right thumb surgery. Boston is 7-2 since he returned and just three victories away from its first NBA Finals since 2010.

Smart and the Celtics will be back on the court Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET) for Game 2. No matter how it plays out, he knows his mom will be ready to talk about it.

“My biggest critic and my biggest fan, and I love her,” Smart sald.



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