As we still wait for the NBA season to resume in late July critics, analysts, and basketball fans in general are curious on how much the Celtics will be able to challenge the Bucks. The truth is that we know about the superstars in Boston. But Marcus Smart may be the key to the postseason coming off the bench.
Defense & Toughness
The six year player from Oklahoma State has been the main energy off the bench. He has the type of energy that gives the second unit a boost so often needed in games. Over the years we’ve seen Smart guard guys like James Harden, Klay Thompson, LeBron James and more elite players. Though he might not be the tallest, strongest, nor most skilled, he's the toughest. And in a series of best of seven games, we’ve seen just how much of a necessity toughness is in the postseason.
His numbers may not jump out at you with averaging 13.5 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds a game. But it’s respectable coming from a 6th man. However, the 1.6 steals per game and 83% from the free throw line is impressive. Considering he never has to worry about taking any offensive load. Especially with guys like Tatum, Hayward, and of course Kemba Walker on the team.
I still believe Jaylen Brown is the best defender on the team based on him being able to guard all four positions. But when we look at the importance of a deep bench in the postseason as guys get fatigued or hurt, Marcus Smart is undoubtedly the standout. One could also make the case he is the best 6th man in the Eastern Conference going off production.
However, I do worry sometimes about the offensive production coming from the Celtics bench The Celtics appear suspect in that area. I’m sure Bradley Stevens will make adjustments in the rotation to make sure one of the All Stars are on the floor at all times. If not, expect some struggles in the offensive department when Smart’s unit gets on the floor.
With shooting just 37% from the field and 31% behind the arc makes him an unreliable source of offense. Especially when being on the other side of the court guarding tough matchups. Although this season has been the highest he’s been averaging in his career since entering the NBA. The ceiling is starting to rise for him. But for now, I don’t expect Stevens to draw up too many plays for the combo guard.
I’m sure this break in the season will give Smart the time he needs to recharge for Orlando. With him turning 26 years old, he is no stranger to the playoffs and what it takes to make a deep run. We have to remember how much of a roll Smart played in the 2018 playoff run. That was the same season Kyrie Irving went down midseason. Expect him to lead the group of young guys on the bench to being fully prepared for whatever transpires in the next few months.
Featured Image via The Bleacher Report