Contain James Harden
There is no stopping James Harden unless you can force him to stop himself. That is exactly what Marcus Smart did in the first matchup.
It was back-to-back offensive fouls on Harden that enabled the Celtics to pull off that epic comeback. Smart was in the middle of them both as he frustrated Harden into committing both fouls.
This time around, you better believe Harden will be out to make amends for those two mistakes. The NBA’s leading scorer and MVP candidate will present a heavy challenge for the Celtics’ defense. It is a challenge Smart is looking forward to.
"“I love it,” Smart said, via ESPN. “It’s an opportunity for me to challenge myself on the defensive end and each and every day I’m up for those type of challenges. …”"
Smart went on to acknowledge how hard a scorer like Harden is to stop. He hopes to slow him down and continue to frustrate him. As motivated as Harden will be in this game, his emotions can get the best of him like they did in the final minutes of that game in December.
How Marcus Smart holds up and controls his own emotions will be a key to the Boston Celtics success.