Marcus Smart missing the game winner last night isn't necessarily a bad thing
Marcus Smart took the last shot last night against the Wolves. With 5.3 seconds left on the clock, the Wolves doubled Isaiah Thomas. Smart took the inbounds and dribbled up the right side, launching a 27 footer with a few ticks left on the clock. The shot was on target, but clanged off the front of the rim. The carom did not find Jared Sullinger. The buzzer sounded. The Celtics lost. And it turns out Smart probably should have passed the basketball.
Wow. So he definitely should have passed the basketball. Isaiah was extremely open. Unfortunately this is where Thomas' lack of length hurts him as Smart (and the Timberwolves defenders) did not seem to notice him doing jumping jacks and arm circles on the weak side.
Smart's hero ball cost the Celtics the game and rendered a mad scramble from 10 points down in the final 90 seconds obsolete. Well that and Karl Anthony-Towns going off, or a last second three pointer ending the third quarter for the Wolves. Or inconsistent defensive effort and letting the Wolves take 40 foul shots.
Regardless, Smart's miss last night isn't necessarily a bad thing. Had he connected and won the game the narrative would be "Smart is clutch" and "Smart has huge balls" and "Smart's really smart" and all that. Bottom line: those statements are probably all true regardless of whether or not that shot goes in last night. But it's not the worst thing to have your second-year rising star have a teachable moment in a road game in Minnesota in the middle of February. This Celtics team is still building and developing into something after all. There's going to be bumps along the way.
The Celtics are successful because of effort and coaching and making the right play more often than not. If Smart cans the game winner last night on what is definitely the wrong play and becomes the hero, it's going to be really, really difficult for him to make the right play the next time around. Instead this becomes a valuable lesson for a 21 year-old kid with a bright future in front of him. It could have happened in a playoff game. It could have cost the Celtics their season. But instead, it costs the Celtics a regular season game and gives the Celtics two takeaways:
1. Late in the game, share the ball, make the right play. Especially when your best player has a great abyss between him and the basket.
2. Stevens needs to have a timeout in his back pocket at all times because his ATOs are ridiculous. How about this little gem to cut it to a one possession game courtesy of Masslive's Jay King.