Marcus Smart Making a Strong Case for Himself Ahead of Trade Deadline

Marcus Smart

Getty Images Marcus Smart of the Celtics celebrates during the second half

Over 50 games into what’s been a disappointing 2021-22 campaign, thus far, the Boston Celtics — winners of four of their last five contests — are playing their best basketball of the regular season, and the same should be said about their starting point guard, Marcus Smart.

Boston’s mercurial leader is coming off his most productive month of the season. Smart averaged 11.5 points and connected on 42.2% of his field-goal attempts, including 40.8% behind the 3-point arc.

Marcus came a long way from the 26.9% 3-point clip of December.

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Most importantly, Boston (27-25) is on the up and up — which is only three games behind the Brooklyn Nets for sixth place in the Eastern Conference — and Marcus is a big reason for that. Since his return from COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Smart’s finished with a plus-36 game rating in back-to-back games, respectfully, against the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings before finishing a plus-28 and a plus-25 against the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat, who Boston trampled 122-92 at TD Garden, Monday night.

Celtics Offense Flourishing in Marcus Smart’s Return

The Celtics won all four of those games, which accredited to Smart and All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, of course. However, for Marcus, whose first season as the Celtics’ unequivocal floor general, it’s imperative that he re-write the ship. The NBA trade deadline is one week away, and Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens should be looking to tweak his underwhelming team that’s home to one of the better scoring duos (Tatum, Brown) in the NBA.

The Celtics have found some consistency in concert with Smart’s resurgence for a team that’s hovered around a .500 record all season long. And Marcus has been more open with the media, of late, since his return on Jan. 23.

Smart revealed that controlling the pace on offense has been the difference lately for Boston, which averaged 118.2 points throughout its last four victories. Spending time away from the team at the start of 2022 helped Marcus see things more clearly from afar, as he was able to study the Celtics’ deficiencies before sharing his findings.

“It’s no surprise that when our pace is up that we can get out in transition with the points that we accumulate,” Smart said after Monday’s blowout win over the Heat. “For us, that’s key. Focus on the things that put us in a good position, and that’s getting the ball out and getting up the floor. Trying to get some easy buckets and putting pressure on the defense.”

Marcus Smart Addresses Jaylen Brown, Celtics

Incorporating teammates into the offense while offering encouragement on and off the floor has also made a difference. After Monday’s win, Smart shared that his leadership has led others to be more vocal with the team, including Brown, who Marcus says he encouraged before beating Miami.

“Stay with it, stay connected, stay positive, and stay really, really focused,” Smart said he relayed to Brown before tip-off, Monday night. “When we’re going through walk-thru, he’s actually talking more; that’s what we’ve been asking from him. To get out of his comfort zone on that end. He’s been doing a really good job, saying all the right things.

“He’s in the film room watching the film, making the right reads, calls, and letting us know — that’s something he’s got to continue to progress with, and he’s doing a great job.”


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