Marcus Smart has gotten hot before and it’s happening again, leaving fans to wonder if the young guard has finally turned a corner.
Smart has averaged 19.0 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.5 RPG and 3.0 SPG over the Boston Celtics last two games while starting for the injured Avery Bradley, but the most exciting thing about his performance is the fact that he’s shot 61.9% from the floor over the contests while going 6-for-9 (66.7%) from beyond the arc. But this really just isn’t a flash in the pan across two spot starts as Smart has shot 37.0% from three over the team’s last 17 games while averaging double-figures in scoring, 4.9 APG and playing that trademark Marcus Smart defense that everyone has fallen in love with over the past two and a half seasons. The Celtics have won 11 of those last 17 games with Smart really starting to heat up and he’s really been a spark for the team as they’ve now brought their overall win percentage above .600, which Boston hasn’t done since the 2010-11 campaign.
It was always helpful for Smart to step up and shine over the past two years but now the team needs him more than they ever have. He played a big role off the bench last season, but Evan Turner was also there and played the role of sixth man. This allowed for Smart to kind of hide at times and be more of a defensive role player, but Smart has now become almost a sixth starter for the Celtics now that Turner is gone and he’s averaging over 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career.
Boston is a much better team when Smart is playing well on both ends of the floor and it could make the difference between competing with the Toronto Raptors for the second spot in the Eastern Conference and being a middle of the playoff team, which is exactly what they looked like after their 12-9 start before this recent 17 game stretch by Smart. He’s fooled us before with these great offensive outbursts and then suddenly gone back to being a 20% three point shooter without warning, so it might be hard to get your hopes up that this will last but it’s still something to enjoy in the present.
The Celtics will try to rebound from their loss to the Raptors last night with Avery Bradley likely returning to the starting lineup, which means Smart will head back to the bench and become the sixth man once again. Boston will be home for this one as they go up against a great Wizards team with a strong back court of John Wall and Bradley Beal, so expect Smart’s defense to be a key factor in this one; it’ll just be nice if he bangs home a few threes as well to push the Celtics to a bounce back victory.