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Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens long has resisted naming a team captain.
But if he had to choose one, the Celtics' longest-tenured player would be a pretty strong candidate.
That's sixth-year guard Marcus Smart, who delivered a quintessential "Marcus Smart" game Wednesday night in Boston's comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Not only did Smart stuff the stat sheet with 19 points, six assists, four rebounds and a steal, he also played strong defense on Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo despite giving him eight inches and about 25 pounds.
In his interview Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge explained why Smart is so critical to the Celtics' success.
"Marcus is a terrific player," Ainge said. "He’s out there to guard everybody. He always has and he always will. That’s his nature.
"He loves that challenge of guarding the stars of the other teams and trying to get inside their head. That’s why he is the heart and soul of the team."
Smart did seem to get inside Antetokounmpo's head, as evidenced by Giannis' takedown of the Celtics guard late in the fourth quarter:
.@Scalabrine "What is that, Mike?"— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 31, 2019
.@celticsvoice "It's a tackle." 🤣 pic.twitter.com/qq8MOq5PEZ
Smart's teammates are well-acquainted with his feisty style of play, which Ainge confirmed with a great line:
"He would be picked No. 1 by all of his teammates in our scrimmages because they didn’t want to play against him.”
The player you hate if he's on the other team and love if he's on your team? That's Smart in a nutshell.
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