Even as Brad Stevens was busy getting ready for Thursday night's nationally televised clash with the Rockets, the Celtics head coach took a little time out to hit the campaign trail.
Asked about the challenge of defending James Harden, Stevens lauded what Marcus Smart had done in previous matchups against the defending MVP and made the case that Smart should get some consideration when it's time to vote for awards at the end of the season.
"Marcus is a really good defender, who probably should have been on All-Defensive teams before and for whatever reason has not been," said Stevens. "So maybe if everybody could write a little blurb for him, I think that would be nice because he should be on it every year. He’s a great defender."
Smart has been a defensive stalwart during his five NBA seasons, but he hasn't landed on the All-Defensive First or Second teams yet. Despite that lack of official recognition, he still knows what he brings to the floor.
“I think that I do a pretty good job. These five years I’ve been here I’ve been showing and showcasing that I am one of the top defenders in this league, but I don’t let it get me too worked up," Smart said. "I know what I bring on the court to my team and to the game. So I’m not really worried about it if a piece of paper or somewhere online doesn’t say that I’m on some type of team that guys that, I don’t know, just want to see certain guys there.
"It’s a popularity contest and I’m out there to play ball. So I don’t need a piece of paper or something telling me I’m a great defender."
Pieces of paper like actual box scores don't often show Smart's full impact on a game, with no official categories for grit and hustle. But Smart says he's always placed a value on that end of the floor.
"I was always raised that defense wins championships," Smart told NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely during a pregame interview Thursday night. "The game is you gotta stop your guy from scoring; it doesn't mean anything if you go out there and score 30 but so does the guy you're guarding.
And I don't like to be on any highlight reels, so I take good pride in playing defense. It doesn't work out all the time, but for the majority of the time it works out in my favor."
Maybe if he keeps up his solid work on the defensive end, he'll get some All-Defensive Team votes at the end of the season. And it wouldn't help to have his head coach keep pumping his tires.
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