Marcus Smart continues to shine when the game is on the line
The Boston Celtics spent the majority of their Monday night win over Washington with a big lead, but when the Wizards bench sparked a run late in the 4th and chopped that lead down to 6 points with just over two minutes to go is when Marcus Smart did what he does best - make winning plays. With a the Celtics in need of a bucket on the offensive end coach Brad Stevens dialed up a Smart post-up:
MARCUS SMART! #Celtics pic.twitter.com/TZT9eu6nBb— Boston Celtics (@Celtics_Recaps) March 21, 2017
From just a step inside the 3-point line Smart backs down 6'8 Bojan Bogdonavich with a few dribbles and then takes him to the hoop for a high-percentage shot from inside 5 feet. The Smart post-up has become one of the most efficient plays in the NBA today with an average of 1.044 points per play, he falls right behind Khawi Leonard for 6th in the league:
"Power guard” Marcus Smart ranks 6th in NBA in points per play in post-up situations. A look at the top 10 via @SynergySST (min: 65 plays) pic.twitter.com/ZfsPpu9s4x— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 22, 2017
Part of the reason Smart is so efficient scoring in the post is because teams have to account for his passing. Taking another look at the video above - the Celtics do a great job of spreading the floor on offense and as Smart bullies Bogdonavich to the rim 3 potential help defenders stay on their man:
The reason for this is because Smart also happens to be one of the best passers in the league off post touches, 5th overall with a 12.6% assist rate (via NBA.com) of players with a minimum of 70 touches. When teams decide to help on Smart he makes them pay, whether that's a rolling Al Horford or a wide open Jae Crowder three the Celtics offense thrives when Smart has the ball on the block.
But hitting a big bucket on the offensive end wasn't enough for Marcus, he needed to ice the game on the other side of the ball and unfortunately for Bogdanovich he was the victim yet again:
.@Smart_MS3 with a huge play late in the 4Q when he rips the ball out of @44Bojan's hands. #Celtics pic.twitter.com/MA3zzowY1g— CSN New England (@CSNNE) March 21, 2017
The official game scorer listed that as a block and an offensive rebound even though that was clearly a strip steal from Smart, but the result is the same. That play and ensuing foul from Bradley Beal iced the game for Boston after a pair of free-throws made by Smart. That entire stretch of dominance from Marcus shows up over a 9 second span in the play-by-play tracker:
This 9-second span is all you need to know about Marcus Smart's night. pic.twitter.com/o6mvgmkyFo— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) March 21, 2017
A look at the box score would make you think Smart's game against the Wizards was rather uneventful: 10 points on 3 for 9 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block certainly don't jump off the screen, but Smart was a much bigger factor than those numbers would have you believe. He relentlessly hounded whatever Washington player he was tasked with guarding, and when the game was on the line Smart was at his best.
I liked the part where Marcus Smart decided the game was over— Thomp (@Thomp_26) March 21, 2017
Every time the Celtics get to crunch time I genuinely look forward to see what Smart will do to help them win it, and he delivers more often than not.
Related: Marcus Smart is a monster in the post, on both ends of the floor
Photo Credit - Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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