3 thoughts on the Boston Celtics recent turnaround

Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Celtics thought No. 2: Marcus Smart’s improved shot selection

I’ve been fairly critical of Marcus Smart to start the season, but I’ll also give credit where credit is a due. Smart seems to settling into his starting point guard role quite nicely after a very bumpy start to the season, and that’s got to be music to Celtics fans ears around the world. If Smart can get his shooting back on track, things will be looking up for Boston.

Smart’s shooting has gotten better, but his splits are still fairly ugly (37.8 percent from the field, 27.5 percent from three). A reason for his improved scoring as of late is actually because Smart has gotten to the paint more and has reduced the amount of threes he takes per night. Head coach Ime Udoka has dialed up a number of plays that isolate Smart in the post against the opposing teams guards, and Smart simply overpowers them on his way to the hoop.

Smart had easily his best game of the season against the Los Angeles Lakers, and he did pretty much all of his work in the paint. He shot 9/13 on the night, but only two of those shots were from behind the arc. When Smart drives to the rim off of pick-and-rolls, that’s when he is at his best, especially with Rob Williams running alongside him.

The change in Smart’s play has been quite noticeable throughout the early stages of the season too. In the first four games of the season, Smart took a little over seven threes per game. Since then, Smart has only taken more than five three point attempts in just one game.

On the other hand, Smart’s evolved into the pass-first player the Celtics front office had to envision he would become when he was handed the keys to the offense this offseason. Over the last nine games, Smart is averaging 6.7 assists per game, and he has had at least five assists in all of those games.

This is what Boston hoped would happen with Smart when he took over as the starting point guard. The number of poor shots Smart would have previously taken has gone down, and with those shots down, the number of assists he makes a game has increased. He will still have dud games, such as a two point outing against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the recent returns from Smart’s play have been encouraging, and he appears to be growing into his new role.