Smart Blogging: Chapter One
I have on a long-sleeve Hartford Whalers shirt, am drinking a Samuel Adam’s Octoberfest with some Jack Daniels Fire Whiskey poured in, already ate dinner (salmon and mashed potatoes)… let’s do this.
First off, a quick explanation why I am doing this. I love Marcus Smart. The man can’t really shoot that well, especially from three. And yet, despite lacking a key basketball skill (shooting), he is consistently one of the best and most impactful players in all of basketball. Because… ya know… there is that whole defense, rebounding, and passing part and Marcus excels at those. So here we go.
1) Marcus Smart enters the game with 7:24 to go in the first, tied at 13 as Jaylen Brown picks up his third foul. Smart gets his first touch and delivers a beautiful inlet pass to Al Horford from the top of the key, leading to an immediate layup for Horford. Smart has been on the floor for all of 15 seconds and already did something only 5% of the league can do. This is Good Smart (15-13).
2) Marcus sees Aron Baynes slipping a potential pick & roll screen, Marcus hits him as he slips to the basket. Baynes gets fouled, no assists, but Baynes foes 2-for-2 from the line. Good Smart.
3) Defensive possession, Marcus bothers the hell out of Kris Middleton, Bucks have to take an awful shot. Rebound Celtics. Good Smart
4) Marcus returns the favor by throwing the ball to nobody in white. Thought he had Baynes open. Nope. Transition the other way, Marcus fouls, Bucks hit free throws. Bad Smart.
An aside: Tatum is so… so… good. Hits cross-over, step-back three. Just sexy.
5) Thon Maker (7’1), posts up in the paint against Marcus after a switch. Gets the ball in a good spot deep in the paint, yet 6’4 Marcus forces a wild right-handed hook. Rebound Celtics. Excellent Smart.
Same aside, different sentence. Bucks leave Tatum open for three, because if you’re going to leave someone open for three, might as well be the hot hand and the guy that leads the NBA in three point FG %. Marcus defense turns into a semi-transition Celtics three. This is the Marcus Effect… and also… Danny Ainge is a genius.
6) Marcus gets the board on a mid-range jumper from Thon Maker after closing out well on a Malcolm Brogdon drive. Good Smart.
7) Smart gets picked off on a screen. Snell knocks down the jumper. Average Smart.
8) Marcus gets picked off on another screen, but Snell misses the shot as Marcus boxes out Thon Maker and the Celtics get the rebound. Good Smart.
9) Smart has chance to take three, pump-fakes, drives lane, jumps, kicks out to Marcus Morris for the corner three, Morris buries it. Excellent Smart.
10) Marcus holds with five seconds separating game and shot clock. Brings Al Horford in for the screen, takes Brogdon one-on-one, pump fakes, draws the foul. Marcus gets two at the line. Bricks the first freebie. Bad Smart. Flushes the second. Average Smart.
11) Bucks have to rush the shot, get it to Brogdon at the top-of-the-key, who is guarded by Smart. Brogdon tries to get Marcus into the air, Marcus stays put, Brogdon jumps forward to create contact, Smart evades the body, Brodgon tosses up a pray, which bludgeons the back of the rim and the quarter expires. Very Good Smart.
Through One Quarter
Good (or Better) Smarts: 8
Bad (or Worse) Smarts: 1
Average Smarts: 2
12) Having Semi Ojeleye on the floor at the same time should be illegal. Like a pair of bulldogs. Marcus forces an ugly Brogodon Smart, rebound Celtics. Good Smart
13) Marcus Morris does something weird, but finds Marcus Smart with five seconds left on the shot clock. Of course the deep three late in the clock goes in. Great Smart
14) Brogdon is just going to keep to the well, which right now is dry as a desert. Forces a shot while coming around a pick with smart in pursuit. Misses. Smart with the steal after a Bucks rebounder tries to keep it in bounds. Good Smart.
Thon Maker needs to stop shooting or this is going to be a long night for the Bucks. The Celtics Fives are KILLING the Bucks right now. First Baynes and now Daniel Theis. Theis just somehow rocked home an alley-oop from Marcus Morris. 2016-2017 Celtics fans have no idea why that last sentence is a good thing.
Marcus comes out of the game with the Celtics up 43-30 (he is currently a +13 by my calculation). Marcus Smart has four points, two rebounds, and three assists at the moment. The only shot he has missed is a free throw, which is so Smart it hurts (also one turnover and one PF). It seems that Brad Stevens wants Marcus Smart on Middleton, Snell, and Brogdon whenever he is in the game, which makes sense because that trio murders the Celtics, especially Brogdon.
Aside: Semi is getting a good run of playing time. He was in a shooting slump for a bit there, but I love Semi. He is a stronger version of Smart (a scary thought because Smart is a beast, but Semi might in fact be a super hero).
Double Aside: Jason Terry is still in the NBA. This is so funny. Jason Terry is the man. He also played great defense against Bob Cousy if I remember correctly.
15) Smart replaces Terry Rozier. 2:44 left in the half. Celtics are up 57-39. Terry was great in his limited time. Marcus baits Giannis into a long two. It misses. Celtics board. Average Smart.
16) Marcus Smart gets called for an illegal screen. This was a perfect screen and only gets called because the Celtics are up 15. Bad Smart, but not his fault.
17) Welp, this might be the last time I’m doing this. Giannis sets a screen and Marcus goes down. Marcus may have knocked knees with Giannis who did a bunch more illegal in his screen than Marcus did (no call). Marcus yaps at referee and picks up the Technical (right call). I was about to make a Gronkowski joke… but Tommy Heinsohn literally just made the joke so yeah… my sense of humor is the same as Tommy’s… probably not a good thing. Celtics now up 12 as Marcus hits the bench. Marcus is now a +7. Awful Smart. But understandable.
At the Half: Celtics up 62-49 (Jayson Tatum has 16. Wow)
Good (or Better) Smarts: 11
Bad (or Worse) Smarts: 3
Average Smarts: 3
An Aside: I’m making another drink, that was tasty (also, I will hit the DVR and watch the Bruins at half-time and try to avoid the final score until later). I made popcorn too. Marcus is not out to start the half. Holy Schnikes. Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown just went And-1 Mixtape with an off-the-board alley oop. Called off because Kyrie was fouled while clearly passing. But Kyrie is feeling it. I think this game is going to get real fun before it gets bad.
Next offensive possession: Kyrie drills a J. One after that: Kyrie gets an And-1. Woof. I was SO wrong about the IT4 trade (Celts are up 20: 69-49).
18) Marcus Smart enters the game with 5:38 left in the third and Al Horford at the line (who misses the first one roughly a foot short and hits the second). 77-62. Marcus has Brogdon it looks like. Again. The dueling tornadoes of defense (Smart and Ojeleye) are on the floor together. Jayson Tatum has Giannis, they go at him. Giannis gets a bucket, but misses the And-1. Marcus comes off a screen on offense and flushes the jump shot from the the top of the paint. Good Smart.
19) Marcus works the pick & roll with Theis, but WHIPS a fastball from six feet away, turnover. Bad Smart.
20) Marcus looks like he draws a charge after a solid closeout on Brogdon, which he tries to drive. Smart goes down, no whistle either way. Brogdon throws up a push shot right before Marcus gets back up and gets a hand in the face (almost blocks it), but it goes in. Average Smart.
21) Eric Bledsoe tries to drive on Smart. He stops it cold. Gets it to Giannis who tries to post up Smart, tries a move, stonewalled. Goes for the fadeaway, misses. Excellent Smart
22) Ohhhh, Theis slips the screen on the pick and roll. This time Theis catches the bullet pass, Theis slams it home. Great Smart.
23) Smart a wide-open three from the corner with nine seconds left on the shot clock. No chance this is good. (Doesn’t go in). Bad Smart.
After Three Quarters: Celtics Up 88-81
Good (or Better) Smarts: 14
Bad (or Worse) Smarts: 5
Average Smarts: 4
I am fully behind the idea of rolling with Samuel Adam’s beer and Jack Daniel’s Fire Whiskey. Good combos. Celtics need to have a solid fourth. Rozier back on the floor.
24) Smart cuts hard to the pain after getting it to Horford in the post, just off of the block, great GREAT past by Horford. Two for Smart. Good Smart.
25) Bledsoe tries to take Smart one-on-one, that goes exactly how you would expect. He smothers the ever-loving life out of him and the Bucks commit a 24 second violation on an air-ball. Superb Smart.
26) Smart deflects a pass and thinks about diving over the front row of people. Decides better. I’m disappointed. Quick shot by the Bucks, no good. Smart skies for the board. Good Smart.
27) It looks like Smart is now on Bledsoe after he ended the third on a tear. Bucks force-feeding Giannis and it is working cause he’s a freak. But Al Horford+Celtics Ball movement is keeping the lead at ten. This isn’t Smart related. I just needed to note everything. Smart’s role on the offense when he is not the PG seems to be “Stay in the corner, don’t touch the ball until there’s five seconds left on the shot clock.” Marcus Morris throws the ball to nobody, but Al Horford and Smart force a timeout from Giannis in transition. So much harder said than done. Great Smart (and Horford).
28) Marcus Smart (with good on ball help defense from Tozier), cheats on the help and comes up with a steal. Good Smart.
29) Horford gets murdered by Giannis in the post (no call), and has to toss it out to Smart with two on the shot clock. No good (a surprise. Seriously). Average Smart.
30) Smart heads to the rim after grabbing a defensive rebound, feels Giannis on him so goes for the reverse. It misses, but Horford slams home the board. Good Smart.
31) Smart tries to block a Giannis dunk attempt and ends up on a poster. Average to Bad Smart.
32) Offensive, Marcus works the P&R with Horford to perfection for the alley oop. Good Smart.
33) Offensive, Marcus works the P&R with Horford to perfection for the alley oop. Yes, I know I just typed that, but it happened in back-to-back possessions so that’s what you get. Good Smart.
34) Smart closes out on a prayer end-of-shot-clock attempt from Middleton. Good Smart.
35) Smart throws it away going to the well one more time for the alley oop. Bad Smart.
36) Smart crosses over his man… HARD… and tries the step-back three. Yeah, brick city. Bad Smart.
Aside: It’s the fourth quarter so of course Marcus Smart is involved in EVERY FRIGGIN PLAY
37) Smart decides to go 1-on-5 for no discernible reason. Misses the right-handed runner hook. Bucks try to take advantage in transition. Turn the ball over. Bad Smart (but worked out well).
38) Smart is now an even in terms of his plus/minus. Is 3-for-8 from the floor, 1-for-3 from three, has six assists, four rebounds, four turnovers, and one steal (and two personal fouls). This is an awful Smart game… and yet… he’ll be on the floor as we come back from the timeout with the Celtics up 102-94 and 2:55 left. Smart immediately pays dividends by finding Jaylen Brown on a cross court feed as Brown hits the paint and puts in the bunny. Good Smart.
39) Smart closes out on a quick three. It misses. Good Smart.
40) Smart gets called for a foul in transition. Looked pretty clean at first blush. Replay shows that it was an awful call. Somehow Smart got all ball on a streaking Bledsoe. In scoresheet, bad smart, in our book, Good Smart.
Celtics are up nine with 1:01 to go. Giannis has 40, Irving, 29. Time for some Tatum. Nope. Instead, Kyrie goes with the okey-doke and flushes a step-back three. A human should not be able to do what he just did. The Bucks respond with a three of their own, but it’s 109-100, and it is much too late. Horford gets fouled, hits them both (he put up a 20/8/9, sheesh). A late three from the Bucks miss. Celtics win 111-100.
Final Marcus Smart Tally:
Good (or Better) Smarts: 26 (12 in the fourth)
Bad (or Worse) Smarts: 9 (four in the fourth)
Average Smarts: 5 (one in the fourth).
Celtics Win by 11 and Marcus Smart is involved in 40 significant plays. 26 Good, 9 Bad, 5 average.
Is the Celtics win a coincidence? No. Good Smart.