You ever yell at the TV when Marcus Smart had the ball in his hands? If you said no, you’re lying. How do I know? Simple: I watch every game, and I know for a fact that Smart’s performance early on was frustrating to watch. I mean, players go through slumps and that’s normal. Smart’s lack of offensive production had Celtics fans around the world worried.
The explosive production of the first unit wasn’t enough to make us disregard what was going on with Smart. After returning from an ankle injury, his offensive production was less than satisfactory. With the exception of a couple of games in which he scored 14 and 16 points, he shot poorly for the majority of November. The lowest points scored this season were against Golden State, where he went 0-7 with 1 point and 0-3 from three-point range. His struggles at the free throw line were also hard to miss, as he shot 56% from the line in October. He was able to improve it to 79% in November, but it still seemed as though he was missing those shots when they mattered the most.
Smart’s defensive prowess should not go unnoticed. Although he only had 1 point in the game against Golden State, his plus/minus was an incredible +15. His aggressiveness on defense kept the Celtics in the game, allowing for a crucial 19-2 run late in the third quarter. Oh, and let’s not forget his willingness to sacrifice his body when necessary. This guy never hesitates when it comes to drawing the charge or going after a loose ball. Another great attribute of Smart’s is his defensive awareness. The fouls he is willing to give are ‘smart’ ones, as he refuses to give up that easy basket. Clutch defensive play in the fourth quarter has been his M.O. Who wouldn’t want a guy like this on their team?
Building His Confidence
The offensive reemergence of Marcus Smart began on November 25. The Celtics squared off against the Pacers, a very good offensive team that was coming in with a 5-game win streak. The Cs won the game 108-98 and Smart contributed 15 points, going 7-8 with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He then followed it up with a season-high 23 points in the loss against the Pistons, shooting 6-9 from three-point range. Working theory: Smart’s turn around came after his bench talk with Al Horford. It seems valid, considering the conversation occurred the game before his performance in Indiana. Hopefully Smart can get back to his college form, where he averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists at Oklahoma State.
Smart still has some work to do, but he’ll get there. Celtics fans everywhere are rooting for you Marcus! Stay on the grind!