Marcus Smart's defense on James Harden should decide Celtics-Rockets outcome

Marcus Smart's defense on James Harden should decide Celtics-Rockets outcome

One of the most exciting 1-on-1 matchups in the NBA will take place Tuesday night in Houston when Rockets guard James Harden goes up against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart.

Smart is one of the best defensive players in the league. He earned a spot on the All-NBA defensive first team last season, and he's a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this season.

Harden is one of the best pure scorers pro basketball has ever seen. He doesn't play the most watchable brand of basketball, but he's on pace for his fifth straight season scoring 29-plus points per game. He's scored 30 or more points per game in each of the last two campaigns, and he's averaging a league-high 35.2 points per game this season. He's 5.2 points ahead of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in second place.

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.

It's safe to say Harden will be one of the most difficult players for Smart to defend all season, but the Celtics star has enjoyed plenty of success against the Rockets superstar in the past. Here's a look at the Harden vs. Smart matchup stats from the last four Celtics vs. Rockets games. Harden shoots well below his normal field goal and 3-point percentages when Smart is defending him.

Smart has many skills that make him a quality perimeter defender. He's quick, he's physical, he anticipates well, he moves his feet and he's intelligent. Smart also gets under his opponents' skin, and there was no better example of that than when he drew back-to-back offensive fouls on Harden in a matchup at TD Garden during the 2017-18 season.


The Celtics are a bad matchup for the Rockets in general. Houston is playing an ultra-small ball lineup after trading away center Clint Capela in a four-team deal that brought 3-and-D forward Robert Covington to the Rockets last week. The Rockets' best lineup doesn't even have a player taller than 6-foot-6 in it. The Celtics can play small ball, too, and they have lots of versatility on the wing with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Smart able to switch any pick-and-roll.

The Celtics have won seven consecutive games entering Tuesday, and if Smart is able to hold Harden below his season averages, Boston's win streak should extend again.

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Rockets, which begins Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Enes Kanter eats marshmallows off a treadmill in hilarious TikTok video

Enes Kanter eats marshmallows off a treadmill in hilarious TikTok video

If you've been couped up in your home during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you've struggled to come up with ways to keep yourself entertained.

Enes Kanter doesn't appear to be having that problem, however.

The Boston Celtics big man has been posting some hilarious videos on TikTok recently, but his latest may take the cake. Kanter spent some of his time in quarantine lining up some mini marshmallows on a treadmill and attempting to get all of them into his mouth.

Bonus points for using the Super Mario 64 soundtrack. Let's just hope the treadmill was wiped down beforehand.

Boston athletes have been all over TikTok since the sports world was put on hold. Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi and Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, in particular, have made some notable videos recently.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”