Marcus Smart was named to the NBA’s all-defensive first team

Smart was sixth in the NBA in steals with 1.79 points per game this season.

Marcus Smart Celtics NBA
Marcus Smart was sixth in the NBA in steals with 1.79 points per game. –Barry Chin / The Boston Globe

Marcus Smart’s prowess as a defender has finally been recognized, as the fifth-year guard was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the first time, a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Celtics season.

Smart, 25, was one of the league’s top defenders because of his aggression and ball-hawking skills. He was sixth in the NBA in steals with 1.79 points per game and the Celtics’ defense was exponentially better with him on the floor.

Smart was able to avoid the injury bug — until very late in the season — playing in 80 games, including 60 starts, as he remained one of the steadier players in an otherwise topsy-turvy season for Boston.

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Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe joined Smart on the first team along with MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, Utah’s Rudy Gobert, and Oklahoma City’s Paul George. The All-Defensive teams are voted on by 100 media members and broadcasters.

Jaylen Brown and Kyrie Irving each received one second-team vote for guards while Al Horford received four second-team votes for forwards.

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