Celtics

Marcus Smart highlights: Watch gritty guard's best plays with Celtics, OSU

Marcus Smart highlights: Watch gritty guard's best plays with Celtics, OSU

This Wednesday is Marcus Smart Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Smart throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Spurs-Celtics.

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Let's cut right to the chase: Marcus Smart isn't the Boston Celtics' most talented player.

But if you think the scrappy guard isn't capable of highlight-reel plays, you're sorely mistaken.

In fact, Smart's frantic style of play has made him an incredibly entertaining (if unpredictable) player to watch throughout his basketball career, which began (fittingly) at Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas, blossomed at Oklahoma State and has steadily improved during his four-plus seasons with the Celtics.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Let's take a look at some of Smart's best plays, starting with his high school and college days:

High School Highlights

 

College Highlights

 

NBA Highlights

Smart's NBA calling card is his defense, and he was finally recognized in 2019 by being named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team. Here are some of his best defensive plays from that season:

 

Smart also has a clutch gene, which he displayed during his rookie season by hitting a buzzer-beater to take down the Toronto Raptors:

 

The young guard has steadily improved his offensive game since then, increasing his shooting percentage in each of the last four seasons and shooting a career-best 42.2 percent last season:

 

Finally, no compilation of Smart's best plays would be complete without that Dec. 28, 2017 game against the Houston Rockets, when Smart forced James Harden to commit back-to-back offensive fouls in a come-from-behind Celtics win:

 

Smart is on pace for another strong season, averaging 11.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists through 25 games played. 

Don't miss Marcus Smart Day and NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Spurs, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Jayson Tatum shares best moments from first All-Star Game on Instagram

Jayson Tatum shares best moments from first All-Star Game on Instagram

Jayson Tatum's maturity on the court this season helped earn him a spot in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

But the morning after, the Boston Celtics forward reacted as any 21-year-old kid would: He posted on Instagram.

Here's Tatum recapping his first NBA All-Star Game, in which he added six points, three assists and three steals in 14 minutes for Team LeBron, which defeated Team Giannis 157-155:

"WOW... just played in my first All-Star game! Dreams do come true! Thankful," Tatum wrote in the caption.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The third-year forward also shared several memorable photos, including a shot of him backing down Celtics teammate Kemba Walker (the starting point guard for Team Giannis) and a picture of him posing with veteran guard Chris Paul.

The relationships Tatum forged (and maintained) at his first All-Star weekend were far more important than his play on the court, and it sounds like budding young star made the most of his opportunity.

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

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USA Today Sports Images

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

CHICAGO -- The untimely death of Kobe Bryant was the theme leading up to Sunday night’s All-Star game which was won by Team LeBron, 157-155.

The night began with a series of tributes to Bryant which included a stirring speech given by Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

Throughout Johnson’s speech, there was the occasional “Ko-be, Ko-be, Ko-be!” chant from the stands.

And the actual game itself was one of the better-played All-Star games in recent memory courtesy of a new format that seemed to go over well with all involved. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The game came down to big shots and big stops by both teams, a fitting end to the night considering how all involved wanted to honor Kobe Bryant and did just that with a brand of basketball that in many ways was part of the Kobe narrative of elite play at both ends of the floor. 

Chris Paul acknowledged the challenge of playing the game at a high level and not think about Bryant who was a major influence for many of today’s All-Star players. 

“It was tough early, especially early,” Paul said. “For a lot of us, it's still surreal. It's not real until you start showing pictures and talking about it. But I think the best way we could honor Kobe, Gigi, and everyone involved was to play like we played, you know what I Mean? Me and Russ (Russell Westbrook) kept talking about it, that's one thing about Kobe, whenever he was on our team in the All-Star Game, there wasn't none of that cool stuff. There wasn't none of that. It was like, as long as they throw the ball up, let's get to it.”

LeBron James added, “You could definitely feel his presence just from the start. From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis' team run on the floor, you saw the 2-4. So he was definitely here.”

Former NBA All-Star Richard “Rip” Hamilton was among those in attendance at the game. 

He and Bryant were both prep stars who grew up competing with and against each other in Pennsylvania and were at times roommates during all-star competitions.

Hamilton acknowledged he still hasn’t fully come to grips with what happened to Bryant and the others. 

“It hurt me, man, it hurt me to my core,” Hamiton told NBC Sports Boston. “And I still haven’t fully recovered from it. Him and I go back way before the NBA and the glitz and glamor and everything else. It’s a thing that … it still impacts me to this day.”

And once the current crop of All-Star players stepped on the floor, Team Giannis wore jersey number 24 (Kobe Bryant’s number) while Team LeBron wore jersey number 2 (the number of GiGi Bryant, Kobe’s daughter). 

Boston’s Jayson Tatum is among the many players on the floor whose game was heavily influenced by Bryant who along with his daughter Gigi, was killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. 

The relationship between Tatum and Bryant had grown into a friendship strengthened by Bryant’s interest in mentoring Tatum who has never shied away from acknowledging how influential Bryant has been in his life, both on the court as well as off the court since coming into the NBA. 

“He was the reason I started playing basketball,” Tatum said recently. “To have him reach out and try and help me, wanna work with me was something I would never forget.”