Celtics

Celtics

SALT LAKE CITY – Marcus Smart has a pretty long ‘to-do’ list of things he wants to accomplish during summer league here in Salt Lake City. 

Near the top of that list is getting into the paint more and attacking a defense.

Smart did a solid job in both areas on Monday against the host team Utah Jazz, but it wasn’t enough as Utah pulled away with strong second and fourth quarters in handing Boston a 100-82 loss. 

Despite the loss, Smart showed the kind of promise that Celtics fans are eager to see more of this season.

He led all scorers with 26 points which included a 12-for-13 night from the free throw line. 

It was the kind of performance that Smart understands all too well that Boston will need to see more of from him this season.

Smart has not tried to hide the fact that he’s trying to get to the basket as often as possible now.

But as we saw on Monday, Smart has to continue probing a way to balance that with making sure he gets his teammates more involved offensively.

“He’s going to be the primary ball-handler for a lot of these games, and he was not that for us for the regular season,” said Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga who is coaching the Celtics’ summer league team here in Salt Lake City. 

As a rookie, the Celtics used Smart on the ball and off the ball throughout the season. But he seemed most comfortable when playing off the ball which allowed Evan Turner to be the team’s primary ball-handler and initiator of the offense. 

Becoming more comfortable as the lead guard running the show, is part of Smart’s progress.

Along with his scoring on Monday, Smart also had a game-high eight assists. 

But even more impressive than the assists was the fact that they came with him turning the ball over just two times, the kind of assists-to-turnover ratio the Celtics would take any day. 

And while Smart’s stat line was solid, the second-year guard still saw lots of room for his game to grow.

“I need to do a better job of getting (the ball to) my teammates,” he said. “I took a lot of tough shots. It’s just something you watch film, you look at, you analyze it, and move on.” 

While Smart was hard on himself, Larranaga for the most part liked what he saw in Smart’s playMonday. 

“Being able to balance handling the ball, attacking, getting the team into offense, knowing when to score, knowing when to pass … that’s a learning process when you’re playing against high level athletes,” Larranaga said. “I thought it was a good first day for him.”