Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
We have seen concentrated cameos of what Smart can do, but the consistency was lacking. He might look good with the shot one night, then attempt a few that elicit the same crooked look as a dog seeing itself in a mirror. Smart might be a tough but wise defender one evening, then get goaded into some macho standoff that leads to a technical foul the next.
Now things are coming together.
“I can honestly say this is the most comfortable I have been in a Celtics uniform,” Smart said. “It feels good, not only for myself but to be able to contribute to this team in other ways. It’s definitely something I will continue to try to keep doing.”
And Brad Stevens will be grateful.
“I think the last couple of weeks have been some of his best basketball,” the coach said. “And we needed it. We’re down a couple of bodies, and he is playing at a high level on both ends of the floor.”
As we continue to marvel at all that Isaiah Thomas does as he continues his ascent from spunky sixth man to one of the NBA’s most lethal offensive weapon, there’s an even greater satisfaction in watching Marcus Smart go from a raw, mistake-prone, brick-laying youngster with defensive tenacity to an indispensable part of a nearly elite basketball team.
Bill Simmons had Sean Grande on his podcast earlier this week (a recommended listen whether you’re a Simmons disciple or a Simmons hater) and when the topic turned to Smart, Grande agreed when Simmons declared that Smart is a guy you need to have on the court of a heated playoff game with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
He’s right… and man, did we get here fast.
For as much of a whirling dervish Smart is on the court– flying around with reckless abandon, tackling TJ McConnell to the ground for one of eight steals last night or cementing his feet to the floor to take a bone-crunching charge on Ersan Ilyasova, he brings an incredible sense of calm and confidence to us as fans, and, I’m assuming, to his teammates and coaching staff.
Last night’s game was wrought with turnovers, messy and unaesthetic stylistically, so essentially it was the perfect game for Marcus Smart.
Maybe it’s the Avery Bradley injury that has thrust Smart into a role with more responsibility on the offensive end, at least, but when Bradley returns, here’s hoping Smart continues executing his do-everything role that’s been a primary cause for the Celtics current roll.
On page 2, Isaiah joins rare company
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 16, 2017
That list is chock full of hall of famers and recently retired superstars. This isn’t a hot streak from Isaiah, it’s his and our new normal. Time to start believing it.
On page 3, Avery Bradley on the bench and near return
Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley, sidelined for all but one game since Jan. 6 because of an Achilles strain, said Wednesday he planned to resume basketball activities over the All-Star break with a goal of returning to game action when Boston opens the second half of the season in Toronto next Friday.
“I’m feeling really good. I wish I could be back now, but I just have to do whatever is smartest at the moment,” Bradley said. “The medical staff thinks it’s smarter for me to just wait until after the All-Star break.”
It was great to both hear those promising words from Avery Bradley and see AB on the bench last night. As is often the case when a key contributor has been out for extended time with an injury, Bradley’s return will feel like a trade deadline addition for the Cs– especially after they’ve gone 14-5 without him. Let’s not forget the Bradley was playing at an all-star rate before being sidelined, coupling his on-ball defense with an expanding ability to score the basketball in a number of ways.
Whose minutes get squeezed? Terry Rozier, who was glued to the bench in December after getting minutes earlier in the year is a likely candidate. Jonas Jerebko is another one, as it would seem asinine to shelve Jaylen Brown given his growth in Bradley’s absence. Regardless of how Stevens manages minutes, it’s undoubtedly a good thing that Bradley is going to be back in the fold soon.
And finally, Carmelo Anthony gets Kevin Love’s all-star spot
Sources told ESPN that Anthony accepted the invite from NBA commissioner Adam Silver earlier in the day, after Silver offered him the spot on the Eastern Conference roster.
This will mark Anthony’s 10th All-Star nod.
I guess Adam Silver feels bad for Melo, who looks miserable and is being sabotaged by his team’s president, so he’s letting him play for a real coach for a weekend. Hopefully that taste of playing for Stevens is all he gets this season.
For those angered that this spot didn’t go to Al Horford, calm down. Al’s having a fine year, but I wouldn’t call him an all-star snub by any means. Let the man rest and come back ready to lead the Celtics on a playoff run.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE – Stars, studs & duds