The Boston Celtics had their work cut out for them the moment they drew the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, they went in with a fighting chance and the confidence to know they could pull the series out. Well, 2 games in and their situation just got worse with news that All-Star player, Isaiah Thomas will miss the remainder of the playoffs with a bruised hip. What that means for the Celtics is that a player must now step into that leadership and offensive role. Enter Marcus Smart.
Smart, who came into the NBA out of Oklahoma State University as a scorer has had a tough go in the league.
While Smart has provided offense off the bench, Brad Stevens may want to give him extra minutes going forward the rest of this series. Smart has the ability to create his own shot and keep the Celtics close but is he ready to handle such a load? Yes. This is the opportunity players like himself wait for. Smart averaged over 30 minutes per game this season but during the Celtics run to the ECF he has only reached double-figure twice. Stevens will need a much bigger output if the Celtics stand any chance to mount a comeback.
Stevens may look to go with Terry Rozier in the backcourt with Avery Bradley but all that does is put added pressure on Rozier who may not handle the situation too well. Rozier is a great ball-handler but he’s nowhere near the offensive weapon that Smart is. With Thomas out, the offense may run through the post with Al Horford with gives a perimeter threat like Smart open chances on a weak Cavs defense. Stevens can elect to swing Bradley over to the PG spot and insert Smart at SG which will keep the Celtics regular starting rotation somewhat in play. However, success still depends on Smart knocking open shots consistently.
With Stevens going with a tighter rotation in the playoffs, Smart has not been able to find the same rhythm he had in the regular season. For the series, he’s shooting 2-11 with and 0-4 from three-point range. Now, Stevens may be forced to play him 35+ minutes and with that extended time comes confidence. The Celtics need Smart to produce but all Smart needed to be was an opportunity