BOSTON – When Marcus Smart came into the NBA, no one knew for sure whether he could make the transition to being a point guard full-time.
The jury is still out on that one, but there’s no denying Smart’s ability to run an offense is trending in the right direction.
We saw yet another sign of his growth on Tuesday in Boston’s 113-103 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Boston’s sixth win in its last seven games.
- Highlights: Boston Celtics 113, Memphis Grizzlies 103
- Young Celtics take back seat as veterans make most of minutes
- Green provides offense punch off Celtics bench in 113-103 win vs. Grizzlies
Against the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Smart came off the bench to score 13 points along with four rebounds. He also tallied six assists and two steals with just two turnovers. And then there was Smart’s defense which, not surprisingly, was effective on several levels.
“He was really good tonight,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Obviously, he made a couple of shots, but I thought the biggest thing was he was all over the place defensively. He made big plays, he got his hands on a couple of rebounds it looked like they were going to get, and I just thought he was really good.”
Indeed, Smart has managed to impact the game in a multitude of areas.
But in terms of his growth, his playmaking of late stands out.
In Boston’s last seven games, Smart has averaged 8.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists while turning the ball over 2.0 times per game.
More proof of Smart’s improved playmaking can be seen in both his assists percentage (21.9) and assists ratio (26.2) both being at career-high levels this season.
“Really just finding my spots on the court,” Smart said. “I try not to force many things but just kind of let the game come to me.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s game.
He wasn’t the Boston Celtics’ top scorer, but you would be hard-pressed to find another Celtic who impacted Tuesday’s win more than Green. He came off the Celtics bench to score a season-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, doing so in just 19 minutes of court time.
Despite being undermanned to the point where everyone knew he would get a lot of touches, that didn’t matter. Gasol was still able to dominate the game, finishing with a game-high 26 points to go with nine assists, four rebounds and three blocked shots.
He led the Celtics with 23 points, 10 of which came in the third quarter which is when the Grizzlies began to ratchet up their always-stifling defense. In addition to his scoring, Bradley also had seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
No one questions Tony Allen’s place among the game’s elite defenders. But he can get you buckets from time to time as well, which was indeed the case on Tuesday as he finished with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with eight rebounds and four steals.
You know you are ballin’ when 21 points is a ho-hum night. Thomas saw a slew of double-teams, tilts and multiple bodies thrown his way by the Grizzlies who were intent on not allowing him to come anywhere close to duplicating his career high 44-point game last week. In addition to the scoring, Thomas also had a team-high seven assists.
Low turnover numbers have been a constant with the Celtics this season, but not so on Tuesday. Boston turned the ball over 18 tines that led to 19 points for the Grizzlies. The 18-turnover performance snapped a 20-game streak, the longest in the NBA this season, in which Boston turned the ball over 15 times or less.