Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart’s absence proving he is team’s MVP

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 23: Marcus Smart
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 23: Marcus Smart /

The Boston Celtics have struggled defensively without the services of Marcus Smart, something the fourth-year guard is taking responsibility for.

Following back-to-back games in which the team gave up 121 and 129 points, the Boston Celtics proved they are in dire need of the All-Star break.  They are also in need of Marcus Smart.

Yes, offensively Smart makes fans want to pull out their hair with his inconsistent shooting, but his value on the defensive end makes up for it.  Since injuring his hand while punching a picture in his hotel room back on Jan. 24, the Celtics did go on to win a couple of games without him.  But, in the majority of those games, the team desperately missed him on defense.

Valued as the top defensive team earlier in the season, the Celtics have given up an average of 105.6 points in 8 of the 11 games he missed.  In those games, they have appeared stagnant and less aggressive than they were when they were on top of their game.

For a team that has won without Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown during stretches of the season, their current slide proves Marcus Smart is the most valuable player on the team.  That is primarily due to his defense and the attitude he brings to the court.

Taking responsibility

Speaking to the media, the product of Oklahoma State puts the team’s struggles primarily on himself.

"“I’ve been on myself pretty bad,” Smart said, via The Boston Herald.  “Especially when I have to just sit back there and watch those guys struggle, and there’s nothing I can do.  But we’ve got the break coming up.  We’ve got to come back and be ready.”More from Chowder and Champions3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster DeadlineMLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 SeasonRed Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win"

With what the Cleveland Cavaliers have done in acquiring perimeter players who can shoot, the defensive pressure Smart provides is greatly needed going down the stretch.  That is not even mentioning the offensive force that is the Toronto Raptors.  While frustrated that his absence from the team was of his own doing, Marcus Smart says one thing is needed for the Celtics to get back to their winning ways.

"“Effort,” he said.  “Other teams want it more than us right now.  I think we got a little complacent, and we’ve just got to realize, especially going into the last part of the season, that teams are gunning for us.  We’ve been a hot team, and we’ve got to come and bring it every game.”"

That lack of effort and complacency has been very evident the last few games.  They have fallen behind by double digits in 3 of their last 4 games.  Although they came back  down 26 against the Indiana Pacers, the fact that they allow teams to build those type of leads proves their heads are not in the game mentally.

Next: Boston Celtics: Recent offensive struggles won’t mean much come May

Hopefully, the return of Marcus Smart will instill the physical and mental energy that appears missing during this current slide.  If he does, the Boston Celtics will have to highly consider a long-term deal because this man is very valuable to the team’s success.