Marcus Smart’s first shot of the game against the Nets Monday night was from beyond the arc. He knocked it down but heard a familiar refrain from the Brooklyn bench afterward, one that is a common attitude for defenses around the NBA when seeing the point guard pull up from downtown over the last four years.
“The first one the (Nets) bench was telling me they’ll live with that and wanted me to keep shooting,” Smart said after the 116-95 blowout win.
Smart used the exchange as a bit of fuel for the rest of the first half as he knocked down three of his next four attempts from beyond the arc, turning in a team-high 12 points before the break as the Celtics erased an early seven-point deficit and cruised to their third straight victory.
Marcus Smart talking shit to the entire Nets bench after every made three is my spirit animal pic.twitter.com/UchVs9MWfv
— Pharaoh (@ColeyMick) January 8, 2019
“I made sure they lived with it,” Smart said with a smile afterwards.
The shooting performance marked the second straight game in which Smart made four or more 3-point field goals and the fifth time he’s done it this year. He also raised his 3-point shooting percentage on the year to 34.7 percent, which is a career-high for him and just shy of the league average (35 percent).
“I’ve been working hard on (my shot) so I’m ready to show it off and when I’m given the chance to, I’m going to take it,” Smart declared.
We’ve seen glimpses of elite shooting from Smart before over his four-year career but they’ve largely been followed up with ugly stretches that have kept his career average at a putrid 29.8 percent from downtown, which creates some understandable skepticism. Why would this year be any different? Are the types of gains we are seeing this year sustainable? BostonSportsJournal.com spoke exclusively with team personnel and coaches to find out what’s realistic for the fifth-year guard and what it means for the Celtics offense.