There was a lot of chatter after Boston’s 100-85 win over Oklahoma City about Marcus Smart and the job he did defensively against Thunder star Russell Westbrook.
Yeah, Smart was a definite factor in Westbrook shooting just 5-for-20 from the field.
But he had help … lots of help, and it wasn’t just Avery Bradley either.
“It’s all by committee,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “Those two (Smart and Bradley) on him, but then when he’s through the pick, it’s whoever is the next line of defense on him. There’s a lot of guys that deserve credit for that. He’s an impossible guy to guard by one.”
Boston's Jared Sullinger echoed similar sentiments about Westbrook.
"Russell gets them going," Sullinger said. "We did a tremendous job as a team stopping him."
Even though Westbrook missed three times as many shots as he made, he still led all scorers with 27 points.
Smart acknowledged how challenging it can be trying to limit Westbrook who is one of the league’s elite scorers.
“He loves challenges and he’s going to try and do his best every time,” said Smart who finished with a career-high 26 points which was one more point than his previous career-high on the same Chesapeake Energy Arena floor a year ago.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game:
Smart delivered as dominant a performance against an elite team as we’ve seen from the second-year guard. He scored a career-high 26 points along with eight rebounds and three assists.
Westbrook had a game-high 27 points, but did so on 5-for-20 shooting from the field. He lived at the free throw line, making 15 of 17 attempts. But the all-around dominance we have seen from him most of this season, was not present.
He made a bunch of shots in the first half to help establish Oklahoma City’s control. But like Westbrook his impact wasn’t nearly as great in the second half. He finished with a double-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Boston surprisingly won the battle on the boards and Sullinger’s play was a major reason why. He finished with just five points but grabbed a season-high 15 rebounds to go with three assists and four steals.
The numbers rarely tell the full story on his impact, especially in the fourth quarter. Turner was the team’s primary ball-handler and to his credit, his decision-making was instrumental in Boston making sure the lead it had built would not be wiped out. Turner only had two points, three assists and a couple steals. But more telling was his plus/minus being a plus-12, which was the third-best on the team.
You don’t expect him to put up Kevin Durant-like numbers, obviously. But a shooting guard who doesn’t make a single shot (he was 0-for-4) from the field? Morrow offered the Thunder little on a night when Westbrook needed someone to pick up some of the scoring slack.
Boston free throw shooting
It didn’t come back to bite them on Sunday, but the Celtics can’t afford to shoot just 65 percent (13-for-20) on the road against elite teams.