Marcus Smart’s move to point guard earned him DPOY

A smart decision.

A smart decision.
Picture: beautiful pictures

The most surprising aspect of the Boston Celtics’ in-season rotation is that the team did it with a position change instead of trading a large asset. Having Derrick White gave him some much needed protective depth, but actually Marcus Smart being allowed to run for the point strengthened his role and gave him direction and purpose.

Earlier in the season, he was candid about his displeasure standing in the corner and waiting for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to pass the ball to him, and I protect the young wings of Celticbecause letting Smart make the decisions often leads him to take bad photos at key moments.

Fast forward to Sunday’s Celtics-Nets Game 1, which has certainly been the highlight of these youth playoffs so far. When the ball reached Smart’s slide with 3 seconds and the count on the clock and Boston dropped by one point, a “not more” moment flashed through the minds of onlookers at TD Garden. The game’s most important moment, and it happened again: Marcus Smart will decide our fate and this crucial contest will depend on whether he makes a scramble 3 Only the player who made his reputation by buying time at the wrong time and wrongly chose fake pump and fake instead.

Being able to maintain clarity in the midst of a frenzied scramble is an attribute that cannot be taught or developed. Intelligence not only has to be aware of the doomsday clock, but it also needs to hold its head high to find a cutting Tatum. And even then, he still needs to make a good enough pass to allow the receiver to catch, rotate, and send the ball through the ring in a fluid, less than two-second motion.

It was one of those “in the mind” moments that reminded fans of players like Reggie Miller or Ray Allen looking for the 3-pointer in chaotic comebacks. It’s not someone we would easily match with a guy like Smart, who expends so much energy and heart on the defense of the ball that we assume his effectiveness outweighs his stats. smart in basketball.

I’m not saying he didn’t play hard; Steph Curry and the rest took heavy damage from one of his dives or dives in a regular season game that can attest to Smart’s motives. What I’m saying is that successfully doing lane crossing, dribbling and fouling is not simply about trying really hard.

Yes, effort is involved, but so is vast knowledge of NBA offenses and progressions, in the right place and at the right time. Take a look at Draymond Green and listen to the pundits praising his wisdom. Clever is not thought of in the same context as all Brad Stevens asks him to do when committing a crime is stand in the corner and spin for 3 seconds, which he is not good at (or even really good at). Imagine how we would have talked about Green if the Warriors had classed him as a glorified focal shooter rather than a focal point.

Also, when all you’ve been tasked with committing the offense is strewn across the floor, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to land some bad shots because that’s the only way you’ll ever get through. influence on the game. I mistook Smart’s frustration with his teammates and the role of a guy who wants to get in on the action heroic. It was not what he wanted at all. He wanted to impact the game, so he found (and was forced to) very few opportunities to do it his way.

A new coach can provide a new perspective, and Ime Udoka’s reliance on Smart to handle the ball and create conditions has helped unlock the Celtics’ former semi-exploitative potential. As it turns out, the position he played in high school and college, the position he won sixth overall, and the position the Celtics have been so desperate to fill, is actually the position of him ever since.

He is trying for almost 3 seconds less per game than he was last year (down to 5.1 from 5.9) and is generating career-high 5.9 assists per game, according to BasketballReference. He’s not Steve Nash (or even Draymond) from a gameplay standpoint, but that’s not what Tatum or Brown need since they can make their own hits. The team needed a way to get him to buy into his role because his defense was invaluable, and maybe just letting him put the ball on the pitch flipped a switch, like, “Okay. , I have to look for others instead of finding my own shot because I now have the responsibility of getting people involved.”

That would make sense because he clearly values ​​the traditional duties of a point guard (I.e. pass), which is probably why he called Brown and Tatum for holding the ball in the first place. And first place is where Boston would have advanced into the postseason if Robert Williams hadn’t been injured.

The Celtics finished in second place, and won a Game 1W’ against the team that brought them home five years ago. The usual Boston’s-the season’s success went unnoticed, and its playoffs certainly wouldn’t have taken place if it had continued.

In addition, when your lineup is good enough to attract a lot of hype, your contributions will be harder to ignore. The Oklahoma State-based eighth-year player has been one of the best defensive defenders since he joined the NBA, but he’s now a points guard and Defensive Player of the Year. He’s the first defender to win that recognition since Gary Payton, who actually give him the award in a great moment.

Anyone who has watched Smart defeat his opponents for nearly a decade knows that he plays winning, all-NBA defense. But they didn’t know if he was the winner. They do it now.

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