Prior to game 5 of the Celtics series against the Bucks, Marcus Smart was medically cleared to play. Anyone who has watched Celtics basketball with Smart healthy knows how incredible his impact truly is. He gets into the opposing players’ heads which results in game-changing impacts. Just ask James Harden and his two offensive fouls on Smart. Those by the way led to the Celtics winning their first contest of the season against Houston back in December 99-98.
Marcus Smart is a Difference Maker
Even though Smart just turned 24 years old, he’s still the longest tenured Celtics player. He knows Boston’s system inside and out and can always be counted on to make the right play. His defensive presence is what makes Marcus Smart the player Celtics fans love to watch. He consistently dives for the 50/50 loose balls. Those loose ball recoveries can end up leading to game-winning points. Smart will be up in the face of whoever he’s defending and make life very difficult for them. Terry is a great scrappy defender, but Smart has the better body for bullying people and making them uncomfortable, making his return much needed.
What is Smart’s Job Versus the Bucks?
Marcus Smart will need to come into this series and make an immediate difference. Brad Stevens should have Smart defending Khris Middleton from the get-go. Middleton is currently averaging 25.5 points per game in this series. That is mainly due to having Boston’s entire defensive focus on Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it’s on him for very good reasons. The dude is unstoppable.Let everyone else continue to keep their focus on the Greek Freak and let Smart’s role of defense 100% about stopping Middleton from continuing to shoot the lights out. I have a feeling that game 1 would have never gone to overtime if Smart was defending Middleton when he shot the buzzer beater to tie it up. He would have been up in his teeth with no regard for human life.
Prediction for the Series with Smart Returning
Prior to the series, I had picked the Celtics to win the series in 6. I predicted that Boston would win both games at home and Milwaukee would also win their first two games at home; both of which have held true so far. With Smart’s return, I’m gonna stick with my prediction of Celtics in 6. The two road losses had to do with Bucks getting hot on offense early and I believe that Smart will have the composure necessary to stop the lengthy Bucks from heating up if they ever start to. Game 5 is about doing what the Celtics have been known to do. They need to ride the electric crowd to a victory. Game 6 is trickier because it’s back in Milwaukee, but Smart will play a vital role in keeping the score close early and allowing the Celtics to end the series with a heavy punch in the second half.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)