Marcus Smart had a brutal game on Thursday, but Brad Stevens came to his defense on Friday saying, “I wouldn’t trade his passion for anything. It’s the competitiveness that makes him who he is.” But after a Is your leash as long as Stevens'?
Alex Kungu: Stevens came to Smart’s defense because he honestly needs what he brings on the defensive side of the floor way too much to just not play. It seems like the Wizards have basically figured out that Smart is always looking to pass out of the pick and roll and they’ve been giving him plenty of cushion and begging him to go one on one. The way to beat that is to be super aggressive when coming off the pick and roll and literally force the defense to collapse on you, and if the Celtics are going to play Rozier they should start doing a lot more sets with Smart in the post. Celtics need Smart on the court if they want to win, they just need him to believe in himself more.
Jeff Clark: He's a feast or famine kind of guy, so you have to take the downs with the ups sometimes. I'd be a terrible coach, so my solution would be to go full Costanza (the opposite of my gut) and start him.
Keith Smith: Smart was so bad on offense, that his defense didn't even begin to make up for it. Missing shots are one thing, but the turnovers were unacceptable. Most weren't even forced, but were a result of sloppy play. The leash has to be short. The Celtics can't afford anything less.
Bill Sy: I liked what Marcus said today about the physicality of the series:
Let’s deconstruct his comments: 1) I think Smart gets unfairly targeted by the refs. There was some talk last season about his flopping and whether he would be hurt by his reputation in a critical moment. Well, we’re seeing that in this series. He’s been called on so many chippy things and there have been a few times where he’s legitimately guessed right and drawn some uncalled charges. I don’t think his minutes should be cut, but if he’s not producing on offense and getting continually penalized on defense, I don’t mind his playing time getting pared down in favor of Rozier and/or Brown. 2) Marcus Smart is about that life.
Lachlan Marr: I like Stevens approach with this. As ever he is cool, calm, and collected and knows that if you stay the course over a long enough timeline things tend to regress to a normative value. That is to say, if you keep Marcus Smart on the floor usually he’ll end up being better for the team rather than worse. Game 3 was not a good game for Smart but it can be easy to forget how young, inexperienced and overloaded with responsibility Smart is. I wouldn’t give him too much rope, as it’s the playoffs and if you don’t perform then you shouldn’t play, but I wouldn’t start making panic adjustments either, at least not yet.