Celtics

Marcus Smart trying to evolve into a knockdown shooter and early returns are positive

Marcus Smart trying to evolve into a knockdown shooter and early returns are positive

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As the longest-tenured Celtic, Marcus Smart knows part of his role will be to teach some of the younger players the ways of being a Celtic.

But Smart knows he, too, must evolve as a player. 

And for Smart, that evolution involves becoming more impactful on offense. 

“This year I want to be more aggressive on the offensive end, as much as I am on defense,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston.

The idea of seeing Marcus Smart chucking up more shots isn’t exactly the most comforting image for Celtics fans. 

But for those who have played with him and coached him, what we're seeing now are the seeds of hard work finally coming to fruition. 

What's often overlooked was that Smart was relatively injury-free last season for the first time. 

So, is it a coincidence that Smart's best season shooting the ball just so happened to come last season when he tallied career highs in games played (80) and starts (60)?

Hardly not.

And then you have games such as the 100-75 preseason win at Orlando on Friday night, when Smart scored 14 points which included him going 4-for-6 from 3-point range. 

No one expects Smart to shoot that well in the regular season. 

No one connects at a clip that high. 

Still, if Smart makes significant progress percentage-wise on his long-range shooting, the calculus that many have for the Celtics this season will undergo a dramatic change in the Green Team's favor. 

Because more games than not, Smart is the one Boston player that folks gamble on will either not look to shoot or will shoot and miss. 

Prior to last season, Smart consistently shot less than 40 percent from the field and hovered around the low-30, high-20 percentage range when it came to shooting 3's.

Smart has spent years working on improving his 3-point shot, well aware that it has been the one knock against him throughout his NBA career. 

But being relatively healthy last season, Smart connected on a career-high 42.2 percent from the field which included making 36.4 percent on 3's which was also a career benchmark for Smart. 

By no means does Smart now all of a sudden move up to the top of the scouting report when it comes to teams facing the Celtics. 

But if teams are dealing with a Boston squad that has a slew of versatile wing scorers and now you add Smart to the roll call, the Celtics become a different - and far more difficult - team to beat. 

For Smart and the Celtics, it isn’t so much about him scoring more points but being more of a threat. 

“Just like guys like Kemba [Walker] and Jayson [Tatum] and those guys open things up for me because of how they shoot the ball, if I’m knocking down shots it’ll do the same for them and that makes us a lot more dangerous of a team.”

After his shooting performance against the Magic, some jokingly referred to him as Marcus Curry - Marcus Smart shooting like Steph Curry makes Marcus Curry, get it?

But the reality is Smart will never be on the same level of shooting as Curry, one of the game’s all-time greats. 

And Curry will never be able to impact the game defensively the way Smart has done for years and will continue to going forward. 

Still, the idea of Smart looking to become a more reliable shooter, while still playing high-level defense, is the kind of unexpected development that could be the catalyst to the Celtics going on a special run that Celtics fans - and players - are optimistic about this season.

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NBA Rumors: Cavaliers willing to trade Kevin Love; could Celtics be suitors?

NBA Rumors: Cavaliers willing to trade Kevin Love; could Celtics be suitors?

The rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly are ready to listen to trade offers for Kevin Love.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday on SportsCenter the Cavs are willing to trade their veteran big man, and the Boston Celtics were one of the teams he brought up when discussing the rumors.

"Look at the teams that are playing tonight that have all had interest in the recent past with [Love]," Wojnarowski said. "Boston, Portland, Denver, he's going to be a player very much in demand and I think there's going to be a lot of conversation between Cleveland and teams all over the league about Love."

Watch below:

Love would be a nice addition to a Celtics frontcourt in need of some size, but his expensive contract makes any potential trade a longshot. The 31-year-old signed a four-year, $120 million extension with Cleveland in July of 2018.

The Cavaliers entered Friday night with a 5-15 record. Love is averaging 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in his 12th NBA season.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 7.

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Celtics' Marcus Smart signs posters for 'biggest fans' Grant Williams, Javonte Green

Celtics' Marcus Smart signs posters for 'biggest fans' Grant Williams, Javonte Green

Marcus Smart got a visit from two of his biggest fans in the Boston Celtics locker room on Friday.

Those fans were his rookie teammates Grant Williams and Javonte Green, who approached the longest-tenured Celtic with autograph requests.

Smart obliged, but he laughed off their requests to write "To Grant" or "To Javonte" on the Authentic Fan posters. Williams did, however, convince Smart to write "To Mini-Me" since Smart has referred to the 21-year-old as the younger version of himself.

Watch below:

To say the youngsters look up to Smart would be an understatement.

After missing the Celtics' win over the Heat with an illness and oblique injury, Smart will be back in action for Friday night's matchup vs. the Denver Nuggets.

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