Celtics

Is Marcus Smart NBA's best defender? Isaiah Thomas, Kendrick Perkins think so

Is Marcus Smart NBA's best defender? Isaiah Thomas, Kendrick Perkins think so

If Marcus Smart is campaigning for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, he got a pair of big donations Wednesday night.

The Boston Celtics guard was all over the place against the Los Angeles Clippers, playing strong defense on All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Smart's effort caught the eye of former Celtics big man and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins, who dropped this endorsement late in the first half:

Smart saved his best work for overtime, though, completing an incredible steal-and-save on Leonard to give the Celtics an extra possession.

The C's couldn't capitalize on Smart's hustle and lost 107-104. But the 26-year-old guard earned a similar endorsement from another former Celtic in Isaiah Thomas.

We're sensing a trend here. Perkins' stance didn't change, either, as he credited Smart again for his work on Leonard, who finished with a relatively quiet 17 points and was a minus-2 on the night.

The NBA Defensive Player of Year award traditionally goes to big men -- Rudy Gobert and Draymond Green have won the last three awards -- and hasn't gone to a guard since Gary Payton in 1996.

But as NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg explained in his latest mailbag, the 6-foot-3 Smart is playing like a big man by locking up opposing power forwards and centers.

The Celtics only have played 14 games, and Smart still is a long shot to win DPOY. (He wasn't even listed on the preseason odds to win the award.) But the Celtics guard might be the people's choice.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Bryce Brown his franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Bryce Brown his franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.

HIGHLIGHTS

BRYCE BROWN

Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.

TREMONT WATERS

Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.

Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Anytime is a good time to watch highlights of the greatness that was Larry Bird playing for the Celtics.

But on Larry Legend's 63rd birthday? It's time to break out the best of No. 33...

The fight with Dr. J in 1984:

The 60-point game against the Hawks in '85:

The steal against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in '87:

The "you are watching was greatness is all about" duel with Dominique Wilkins in '88:

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST CELTICS TALK PODCAST (LISTEN BELOW): 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.