Jaylen Brown says Marcus Smart was ‘born with his hands dirty’
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart had his fingerprints all over a Game 2 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, once again successfully defending home court and putting their Eastern Conference rivals in a tough situation as the series progresses.
The spark plug logged the most minutes off the bench, and for good reason — posting 11 points, five rebounds, nine assists, and four steals — doubling the theft outcome from the entire Cavs team.
“He was born with his hands dirty,” teammate Jaylen Brown said of Smart, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “I’m just happy he’s on our side. Today was a tremendous effort on one of the biggest stages we’ve all played on. I commend Smart for coming with that hard hat that he always has.”
While many defensive stoppers do it with size or strength, Smart has managed to combine both, along with a dedication to game film, studying tendencies, and pouncing on his opponents for steals — generating extra possessions in unexpected, yet very effective ways.
LeBron James, who had the ball taken from him during a post-up play in Game 1, only to happen again on Tuesday, lauded the Oklahoma State product for his intelligence and tenacity.
“I think Marcus always makes plays at the right time,” said James, who raved about Smart’s ability to play multiple positions and impact the game as a creator after leading the Celtics with nine dimes.
The praise didn’t stop there, as head coach Brad Stevens jumped right in to express his value as a key cog of this defensive-minded team.
“I think he’s as tough as they come, right? He’s a true competitor,” Stevens said. “He matches his intensity with a physical toughness.
“People talk about him all the time. Sometimes they focus on things that don’t matter, and the other times they focus on that he impacts winning. We are really glad he’s on our team.”
The Celtics notably refused to trade Smart at the trade deadline, even after a self-inflicted injury before the All-Star break. That same zeal to keep him in-house will remain, as owner Wyc Grousbeck noted he’d be willing to pay the luxury tax to keep this team intact.