Marcus Smart calls out the Garden Report: “STFU”
Marcus Smart reportedly heard his title in commerce rumors approaching at this deadline. Danny Ainge approached Smart with assurance that the Celtics wouldn’t be dealing him, even after six losses in eight video games following an 18-game absence to a calf tear.
Smart shot 40% in these video games whereas the Celtics allowed 113.6 factors per 100 possessions (twenty fourth) in that stretch — with the staff desperately needing change. Ainge in the end added Evan Fournier with out remodeling the core of the roster, admitting the staff felt discouragement inside forward of deadline day.
Critics additionally captured Smart’s consideration. Smart touted criticism from CLNS Media’s The Garden Report as inspiration following a turnaround weekend for Boston’s protection and total fortunes. The Celtics beat the Rockets and Hornets by 46 mixed factors, with Smart contributing 14 assists, 4 steals and a block whereas taking pictures 44% from three on 9 tries, whereas taking pictures 50%.
“I hear all the chitter-chatter about me not really being a great defender, and I can’t guard fast guards, shiftier guards,” Smart instructed John Wallach and Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub after holding Charlotte to 86 factors. “A. Sherrod Blakely said so, and those guys at the Garden Report. All of them don’t think I’m a great defender, so I’ve just been coming out every game trying to prove and let them know that I’m still first team two years in a row running so shut the f*** up.”
Sherrod appeared on the Garden Report amid commerce rumors when varied experiences held that Smart can be the centerpiece of a possible Aaron Gordon deal, who Keith Smith reported has been coveted by Boston for years. Sherrod steered a Smart-for-Lonzo Ball swap as a substitute on the time, whereas earlier within the present emphasizing the facility of Smart’s management since his return.
CLNS Media’s John Zannis truly stated on the Garden Report persistently this season that Smart’s on-ball protection and talent to stay with the league’s quickest guards declined. The panel labored over whether or not to surrender Smart for Gordon, with John and Jimmy Toscano leaning sure, whereas Josue Pavon and I stated no.
The Garden Report has additionally assessed the Celtics’ protection in full this 12 months, and that features Smart as a part of lineups which have declined from a 107 defensive ranking to 113 this 12 months. Boston outscores opponents by three factors per 100 possessions with Smart on the ground, the identical as they did in 2020-21, however that determine entered the weekend at +1.1, earlier than Boston outscored Houston and Charlotte by a mixed 37 factors in Smart’s minutes.
The Celtics play a staff protection that has regressed relative to the league. NBA groups have yielded 1.3 extra factors per 100 possessions than they did in 2019-20, for a median of 111.9. Before Smart went down, the Celtics allowed 109 PP100 throughout Smart’s minutes, which rose to 113 whereas Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum performed amid Smart’s absence. Since Smart returned, the staff is permitting 110 PP100, which might rank within the prime 10. That’s good.
The Celtics set a normal final 12 months although, by permitting 3.3 fewer factors per 100 possession than the league median, rating fifth in defensive ranking and boasting an NBA-best transition protection that allowed Boston to achieve the east finals. This 12 months, it’s a median collective. That’s not utterly Smart’s fault, however he’s a part of a protection that with comparable personnel to final 12 months slid on that finish of the ground by means of 50 video games.
“I don’t think our defense has been very good this year period,” Brad Stevens stated after the Pelicans loss final week. “Defense works only if five guys are all playing it at an elite, physical, tough, engaged level and we just haven’t all year enough of the time.”
It’s tough to level out particular person culprits in a Celtics protection that switches every thing, arms off drivers to facilities close to the rim and performs team-based schemes towards tough matchups like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson. Team-based defensive metrics have declined to profession lows for Smart, together with a 0.1 defensive field plus minus and 0.9 defensive win shares. His steal share is under his profession common, however his block share is above.
Brown and Tatum have seen sharper drops on the defensive finish, with workloads that embody the staff’s worst defensive stretch whereas Smart missed time. They’ve assumed bigger offensive workloads, the place even Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James have discovered worse defensive outcomes.
The distinction is Tatum is 22, Brown is 23 and Smart is 27. Smart needed to get well from a leg ailment that impacted his conditioning and motion. During his calf tear restoration, Smart thought of himself solely 30% movement-wise.
The Celtics’ particular person items could also be hurting on protection due to one another’s absences, awkward lineups and basic inconsistency. In any case, no person is excused from the regression.
“It’s been a weird season,” Jayson Tatum instructed Stephen A. Smith final week. “It’s thrown a loophole in our season and throughout the NBA, it’s been a tough year and that’s why some of the records look the way throughout the league.”
Smart then held Terry Rozier to 0-of-2 taking pictures and a dreadful 0.71 factors per possession for Charlotte after Luka Doncic achieved 1.25 PPP towards him final week. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Kyrie Irving hit him for 13-of-22 taking pictures in over 5 minutes of one-on-one motion earlier.
Other matchups like Russell Westbrook, Collin Sexton and Ja Morant resulted in seven compelled turnovers and 1-of-12 taking pictures when Smart guarded them. Those three qualify as shiftier guards, as does Rozier. John questioned the echelon above them, like Irving.
The outcomes, as they’ve for Boston this 12 months, depend upon the day. Smart’s worth stays instilled in his capacity to defend gamers starting from Joel Embiid to Damian Lillard. While he will not be excellent matchups for both, his capacity to compete in each befits his function as the middle of Boston’s switch-heavy scheme that earned him all-defense honors. Sometimes Stevens places him on assignments that emphasize his capacity to assist. NBA protection is now not about locking down in isolation like when Paul Pierce performed.
Smart flashed that uncommon second face-guarding Rozier over the weekend, and whereas the personnel in entrance of him wasn’t elite, his power unfold to his teammates for an elite staff protection efficiency that indicated top-10 potential.
Concerns that criticism and commerce speak would bitter Smart’s buy-in went the opposite means, and shortly earlier than the deadline amid his title being floated he led a staff assembly the place the staff shared its gripes and regrets. Smart audibly laughed on the Garden Report’s critique, glad to show them improper greater than angrily insulted. That’s Smart’s intangible impression Boston determined to not forgo on the deadline in hopes he’ll be a part of the reply.
“Everybody agreed, this is a bad feeling. This is an ugly feeling that we’re feeling,” Smart stated after a March staff assembly. “We don’t want to feel like this, and we don’t want to look back on this season and say ‘damn, we could’ve done this’ … we all agreed we want to evolve as a team.”