Last season, the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, never shied away from speaking out on the team’s state, alerting them, and gradually igniting a historic turnaround. During media day, Smart was open about the team’s surprising confusion over unexpectedly losing their coach heading into the season. Accustomed to overcoming adversity, Smart and the Celtics have used the outside noise and uncertainty to fuel their success.
“We’re a reflection of him and his leadership,” coach Joe Mazzulla said following Smart’s 22 points, five rebounds, eight assist takeover vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder. Smart missed just four shots and scored all 22 of his points in the second half including 10 in the 4th quarter.
Marcus Smart has shown dramatic improvement as a playmaker for the Boston Celtics.
Smart has been giving the league an astonishing exhibit of his point guard skills as the team’s main initiator. Controlling Boston’s historically powerful offense was the clear focal point, putting any lingering doubts in that department from the past to rest if he hadn’t already done so last year.
The 28-year-old has put up averages of 11.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 3.2 rebounds. During this massive Boston Celtics’ flourish, winning eight consecutive games, the spark has come from the non-stop engine that the reigning Defensive Player of the Year provides as the quarterback of the NBA’s most ascendant team today.
Smart sat out Boston’s eighth straight victory Wednesday night in Atlanta with his ankle inflammation, but during the winning streak, Smart has been averaging 12.3 PPG, 2.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists and has a plus-minus of 62. He has also shot lights out, with 49.3% from the field and 38.7% from long range, for a true shooting percentage of 58.9%.
The most eye-opening attribute of the sixth pick in the 2014 draft has been how he’s looking like one of the game’s most electrifying passers at the point guard position today. In the early part of the season, he is eighth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio, with 99 assists and only 23 turnovers, the best of his career, or 7.1 assists per game to 1.6 turnovers.
He has simply been reminding fans of beloved former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo’s confidence and tricky artistry when bringing the ball up, with that crafty and flashy, show-off type of mindset, especially in transition. Smart has been having fun proving doubters wrong with his unbelievable vision and guidance.
His second-to-none basketball IQ enables him to control a game’s tempo and read any play before it develops on either end. That is what separates him from the rest.
The Smart-Jayson Tatum tandem has lately been compared to the likes of the old Rondo-Paul Pierce connection, while an even greater amount of consumers view the chemistry in similarity to Draymond Green and Steph Curry.
In his 14 contests, Smart has scored 10 or more in nine of them, which is higher than his typical standards. In 10 of them, Smart has recorded six assists or more. Since the trio of Smart, Tatum, and Jaylen Brown was first assembled in 2017-18, Boston has a record of 56-42 when Smart scores 15 or more points. Last season, including Boston’s NBA Finals run, Smart had probably his best all-around season.
“I have moments where it’s late at night and I can’t sleep and all of a sudden I’m thinking about those games and what we could’ve done differently and I wish we didn’t run out of gas,” said Smart describing the pain he has felt since the Boston Celtics’ championship loss to Golden State in June.
“Obviously, those series we went through to get to the Finals were so brutal,” he said. “But, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. You hate to find your lessons in defeat, but sometimes you have to see rain before a rainbow.”
Eager to get back to that stage, the loss of banner number 18 has fueled Smart to ball out even more here in year nine.