Celtics

Smart's bad sense of timing is evident once again

Smart's bad sense of timing is evident once again

BOSTON -- One of Marcus Smart’s greatest qualities on the court is timing.

There are few players with an undeniable knack for being in the right place at the right time defensively, making his presence felt often when the game matters most.

But when it comes to asserting himself as being more than an above-average role player, Smart’s timing has been pretty lousy.

Smart was off to a solid start in his second season which began with him in the starting lineup. But a sprained left toe injury sidelined him long enough for Isaiah Thomas to join the first unit – and never leave.

He’s out now with a right hand laceration for at least another 10 days or so, opening the door once again for his role to change upon returning to the active roster courtesy of Terry Rozier playing the best basketball of his career.

In his first NBA start, Rozier tallied his first career triple-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in Boston’s win over New York.

SEE ALSO: Rozier leads C's to another victory

Rozier followed that up with a career-high 31 points in Boston’s 119-110 win over Atlanta on Friday night, filling in both nights for Kyrie Irving who is out with a right quadriceps injury.

Now when it comes to Marcus Smart, full disclosure folks.

I am a huge fan of his game, missed shots and all.

He impacts winning in a way that stands out night-in and night-out, which I appreciate greatly.

But I sense that just like Thomas’ emergence ultimately relegated Smart to the bench, the emergence of Rozier has the potential to at a minimum, cut into Smart’s playing time upon his return.

Now don’t get it twisted.

As long as Smart is a Celtic, he’s going to play important minutes.

MORE FROM SHERROD: C's will be without Kyrie again tomorrow

But those minutes might not be as plentiful as they have been in the past.

And with Smart hitting the restricted free agent marketplace this summer, there’s no telling how he will handle a potential change to his playing time, or whether the Celtics will look to trade him before Thursday’s trade deadline.

In an interview with NBC Sports Boston recently, Danny Ainge acknowledged the Celtics have had several conversations with a number of teams involving possible trades.

While it is an option he’s open to pursuing all the way up until the 11th hour, there’s no sense of urgency on his part to get a deal done.

“We’re on the phone all the time,” Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told NBC Sports Boston. “We don’t have to do a deal. We’ll do a good deal. We don’t feel we have to do something because we have some glaring weakness. We know our team is not perfect, but I like the guys on the team.”

That includes Smart, whose role as a defensive stopper has become more of a necessity since Boston traded Avery Bradley to Detroit in exchange for Marcus Morris during the offseason.

Among players who average at least 30 minutes per game, Smart’s defensive rating of 98.9 is second in the NBA only to teammate Jayson Tatum (98.8).

So until Smart returns, it’ll be easy to forget about his impact on the team, especially if Rozier continues to play at a ridiculously high level.

But Smart remains a player with tremendous value, regardless of whether he plays starter-like minutes or not.

Because the one thing we know about Smart, is he will make an impact on the game – a timely one at that.

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Pierce details mental-health struggles after stabbing

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Pierce details mental-health struggles after stabbing

Jackie MacMullan's deep-dive look at the mental health stigma in the NBA on Monday wasn't without a few Celtics anecdotes.

One of the biggest sections of the stories was former Celtic Paul Pierce talking about his struggles after he was stabbed outside a Boston night club in 2000.

"I was stabbed 11 times," Pierce tells ESPN. "I felt like I was trapped in a box. I couldn't go nowhere. I battled depression for a year. The only thing that saved me was basketball."

Pierce played all 82 games after surviving the incident, but that was also a product of his anxiety in the ensuing months.

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"I think that's the reason I got back on the court so fast. Me sitting at home thinking about [the stabbing] didn't work. I went to every practice, sat on the sideline for hours, because that's where I felt safe. I didn't want those practices to end because then I had to go back out there in this world that really scared me."

The Celtics offered consulting with a mental health expert, and Pierce is quoted saying he wished he took the advice.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is quoted as well, saying "We can offer all the services in the world, but if they won't use them, we can't help them. Too many of these guys don't realize how badly they need help until it's too late."

The piece also follows Cavaliers center Kevin Love and his mental health struggles in the past year.

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Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

Anything is Podable Episode 6: The games behind-the-scenes

It’s hard not to be intense when Kevin Garnett is on your team. For the 07-08 Celtics, that fire extended beyond the court and into every waking moment they spent together.

Episode 6 of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” goes behind-the-scenes with the members of the world champion Celtics to get a never-before-heard glimpse into the games and competitions that brought them all closer together.

“Everything is about competition and we, as a staff, understood that early,” said Doc Rivers. “For practices, if there was no score, it was a bad practice. All you had to do was put a winner and a loser and the practice went from here to here. It was just that type of group.”

Whether it was on road trips, at practice, or in the weight room, everything about the team revolved around competition and an innate desire to win.

“Everything was competitive,” stated Rajon Rondo. “The boxing gloves came out in the weight room.”

As is the case with every great team, the bonding off the court was essential to finding success on it. Anything that could possibly be turned into a competition, was.

Arm wrestling? Check.

Push-upsYou bet.

On a road trip in Miami, Paul Pierce challenged Glen Davis to eat a large piece of bread in under one minute.

“Have you ever tried to eat a piece of bread like that?” Davis asked. “It gets dry. You can’t swallow it. It sounds easy, but people don’t know how dry bread is...I almost like choked and died.”

“You’re talking about a guy who loved to eat,” Pierce joked.

“I couldn’t do it,” Davis responded.

Competition off the court breeds competition on the court and, while the talent helped, little games like the ones played on road trips were vital to the Celtics achieving their ultimate goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.