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No one does it as well as Marcus Smart! No one! We may have other players in this League that supply 30-or-so minutes of verbal annoyance and aggravation to their opponents, but Marcus does it quietly. And he does it very well. He can be aggressive, aggravating, agitating and annoying all at the same time and has the ability to frustrate opponents like no other.

Smart will hopefully be cleared to play in tonight's Game Five contest against the Bucks at TD Garden. He is listed as questionable as of this writing. Should he play, his right hand will have some type of minimal protection, and hopefully he will avoid further injury.

I count at least six Milwaukee players that Marcus can guard and slow down their production. Let's start with Kris Middleton. He is averaging 26 points in this series on 62% from the field. He's having a field day - sorry!

Giannis Antetokounmpo? Averaging 28 points on 62% from the field, along with 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. If Marcus ends up guarding The Greek Freak on a switch, he can make it hard for the big guy. Eric Bledsoe isn't having a terrific series, but he is averaging 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. Eric seems easily annoyed, and Smart is the guy to do it. Thon Maker has come out of nowhere and has become a factor to be dealt with.

How about Jabari Parker? He is shooting 45% from the floor and averaging 8.8 PPG. He has found his minutes and his game. It may be time for him to lose some of what he has found. Malcolm Brogdon? Double-digit scoring at close to 50% shooting. Here are the thoughts of the Boston Globe's Chad Finn:

■ The Celtics miss Daniel Theis’s athleticism against the Bucks. He could effectively match up with Maker and even Giannis Antetokounmpo on occasion.

■ One of Stevens’s adjustments in Game 4 was to use Semi Ojeleye as a defensive agitator. It worked for the most part, but the tradeoff is that he also has to play the other end of the court. He’s shooting 22 percent in this series after hitting 34.6 percent of his shots during the season.

■ Here’s hoping agitator Marcus Smart returns to this series sooner rather than later. There are at least five Bucks that he could aggravate to distraction, and he could do it without even initiating anything resembling a McHale/Rambis moment.

■ Celtics in six. Maybe seven. But probably six.

So let's hope Marcus gets cleared to play tonight and makes his mom proud. His mother's recent cancer diagnosis is another sad story-line surrounding the Celtics' season. Hope to see you on the parquet tonight, Marcus. Your mom and the team needs it.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images








Tom Lane 4/24/2018 07:03:00 AM Edit
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