Marcus Smart's defensive ferocity breeds fear of failure in opponents

In the past three games since the All-Star Break, take a guess at how many baskets have been scored by Marcus Smart's match-ups when he contests their shots. None! That is not the end of the story. How many have his match-ups attempted in those three games when Marcus contested? Same answer - none. When guarded by Smart, opponents haven't seemed prone to attempt either two-pointers of threes against him. That is an impressive statistic.

Just as Bill Russell's opponents feared driving into the paint against him for fear of being blocked, Marcus seems to instill fear in his match-ups, preventing them from launching shots with him in close proximity. Smart's return from injury has to be a significant part of the win/loss turnaround surrounding the All-Star Break. The Celtics suffered a three-game losing streak immediately prior to the break with Smart still out. They are now on a three-game winning streak post-break with Marcus back on the floor.

Smart's minutes post-break are down to 25.3 MPG from a season average of 30.0. His points and rebounds are down slightly as a result. His field goal percentage for the three games is up to 47.8% from a season average of 36.3%. Hopefully, that continues. Marcus is only averaging 1.7 fouls per game, despite playing ferocious defense. So he has the best of both worlds. He has the respect of the referees and both the respect and fear from those he is attached to on defense. Welcome back, Marcus.

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Photo via Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports