Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s scoring has played a major role in the team’s success, as has Robert Williams’ interior presence. However, the understated impact of Marcus Smart deserves recognition, too.
Boston’s point guard has been the recipient of a lot of attention (both good and bad) during his time with the C’s. This becomes especially true when the trade deadline rolls around. Smart talked about how he handles the outside noise after the win over New Orleans.
“People take it different ways. I look at it as motivation. I look at it as a challenge that we have to accomplish and complete. What better way to go out there and show everybody that’s praying for you to fail, expects you to fail, or doesn’t think that you’ll succeed by going out there and doing exactly what they don’t want you to do.”
Smart’s numbers don’t pop on the stat sheet at first glance, but a closer look reveals his true impact. Over the Celtics’ last four games, Smart is a +93. He’s passing well, playing great defense, and making his teammates better.
The veteran is averaging 6.8 assists in the last four games and 8.3 assists in their three wins. He spoke about this playmaking ability postgame, too.
“Guys don’t worry about giving the ball up to me, because they know I’ll get it back to them. If they keep cutting, we’ll keep getting quality shots.”
Against the Pelicans, Smart put up five points, three rebounds, 12 assists, and a steal, all while being a +28 on the night. However, not everything was sunshine and butterflies. After the game, Smart was flexing his right hand during his press conference. When asked why, the answer involved a bit of a throwback.
“Yeah, it gets like this ever since the picture frame incident. Still have some glass in there [his hand]. They [the doctors] said it would cause more problems to take the glass out, so they just left it in. Sometimes I can’t feel my hand a little bit, but it comes back.”
“The picture frame incident” refers to when Smart hit a picture frame back in 2018 and was out for two weeks with hand lacerations. Evidently, there’s still some glass stuck in his hand from the event.
I want to take this time to express my sincerest apologies to my teammates, coaches, and most of all the amazing Boston Celtics fans. I'm embarrassed and disappointed in my actions. I swiped at and hit a picture frame on the wall. I feel like I let all y'all down— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) January 26, 2018
Smart apologized for his actions and moved on from the situation. He was 23 years old at the time, and oddly enough, the incident was almost exactly four years ago.
Hand injury aside, Smart remains focused on helping the Celtics improve. The team continues to hover around .500, but the 27-year-old is determined to keep them engaged at all times.
“My biggest thing is making sure that we don’t become that team. We don’t have the availability, we don’t have the luxury… We can’t be that team that checks out early. And that’s going to be a big emphasis that I’m trying to incorporate into the team to make sure that we don’t do it. We can catch some people sleeping here.”
The C’s are 26-25 on the season, good for eighth in the Eastern Conference. They head back to Boston to take on the Miami Heat on Monday night, who are the number one seed in the East. It will be the first time the Celtics have faced a team above .500 in five games.