Celtics

Marcus Smart talks Celtics fans, trade deadline, best career flops

"You want the one that's gonna be honest with you no matter what. And that's Boston fans."

Celtics Marcus Smart
Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Another trade deadline has passed, and Marcus Smart remains a member of the Boston Celtics. Not only is he still here, he’s playing pretty well, too.

So are the Celtics, who will put their eight-game win streak on the line against Joel Embiid and the 76ers Tuesday night.

Both Smart and the Celtics have come a long way from the seesawing first weeks and months of the season, where the veteran point guard was calling out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the press and people were wondering if Ime Udoka was in over his head.

The guard, who has spent his whole eight-year career with the Celtics, told retired sharpshooter-turned-host J.J. Redick during a live taping of “The Old Man & The Three” podcast it “feels good” to stay in Boston despite the persistent trade talk.

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“You know, I don’t lose sleep [about trade rumors],” he said. “Some of my teammates do. Each and every year, they’re looking at me like, ‘how do you do it and you’re still here?’ And I’m like, ‘I told you: I let my game do the talking.’ But there is a feeling, to finally be able to just go and play ball. You don’t have to worry about those things anymore. All of your energy can just go to what you’re supposed to do on the court.”

Smart’s been putting up a very good showing of late. His 14.2 points per game, shooting percentage (45.2), offensive rating (118) and defensive rating (99) so far in February are the best monthly averages he’s put up yet this season, via Basketball-Reference.

In particular, his efficiency near the basket has been arguably seen the greatest improvement. Over his last eight games, Smart is shooting 71.4 percent on attempts less than 10 feet from the basket as compared to 54.8 percent for the entire season, according to NBA.com.

Of course, his three-point stroke is still somewhat of an adventure: he’s only shooting marginally better over his last eight contests (31.8 percent) than his season average of 30.5 percent. Still, don’t expect him to stop shooting the ball.

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“I mean, we can sit here and talk about my shooting, I’m probably not the best shooter in the world,” he admitted. “But let’s not forget I still hold the record for most threes in a game in a Celtics uniform. But, it’s a popularity contest. People have guys that they like more than others, so no matter what those guys do, they’re always going to be right, and no matter what those guys do, they’re always going to be wrong…I play the game to win, and the individual stats will come with it, but for me, it’s just about winning. Those individual people who count the stats, that just tells you about their knowledge of basketball.”

But even if the criticism about his offensive game rankles a little, Smart has nothing but respect for the Celtics faithful that show up every night to cheer the team on. In fact, he went on to tell Redick Boston fans are “the most devoted fans that you will ever play in front of.”

“The way that they cheer for us at the Garden, and the way that they also boo your ass when we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do — they let us know,” Smart said. “They keep us grounded. Only the best fans do. It’s like a good friend: you don’t want the one that always says yes; you want the one that’s gonna be honest with you no matter what. And that’s Boston fans.”

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The best part of the interview, though, might have just been when Redick busted out a video of Smart’s all-time greatest flops on the court and had the guard break down why he did them. Never change, Marcus.

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