Updated: Mar 21, 2020
On March 19, the most senior member of the Boston Celtics Marcus Smart announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He made the decision to notify the public after the Celtics organization released information that one of their players had the virus. The (hopefully) future team captain, who has grown up as a Celtic, has found a way to improve every year he has been in Boston, and this is one of his most shining moments with the green.
Just weeks ago, Smart was one of the stalwarts in the Celtics starting lineup. Before the NBA’s 2019-20 season was suspended, he scored double-digit points in 11 consecutive games, by far the longest such streak of his NBA career. The streak coincidentally started after a two-game hiatus from the starting lineup. He had the following line during the stretch: 18.7 PPG, 39%/34%/83% shooting, 4.9 RPG, 5.2 AST, 1.8 SPG, and 0.5 BLK in 37 MPG.
Smart has found his offensive rhythm to go along with what looks to be a second consecutive All-Defensive 1st Team season. Once thought of a defensive specialist, Smart has adapted to new roles in his time as a Celtic, and his times as a Celtic have always included an annual playoff appearance – we should all give a hat tip to Smart for the perfect 6-for-6: 6 seasons with Celtics, and the Celtics clinched their 6th consecutive postseason berth in March.
The Heart and Soul of the Celtics:
Smart is such an important part of the Boston community, and he has embraced it. I remember a day in which I was walking along Boston Common in 2019. I walked by Marcus and gave a wave and exclaimed a greeting that may have been loud enough for all of the Boston Common patrons to hear. With his classic smile, Marcus gave a wave back and made my day.
On March 19, and for future days ahead, he may be making other people’s days. In this situation, he is hoping to reach an even broader audience. He is speaking the message that many people have said before him, but as the first Boston sports figure to have been diagnosed with COVID-19, he took the opportunity to turn it into a teachable moment: “I’ve had no symptoms and I feel great. But the younger generation in our country MUST self distance. This is not a joke. Not doing so is selfish. Together we can beat this, but we must beat it together by being apart for a short while. Much love!!”
If Marcus Smart is in foul trouble, so may be the Celtics:
Smart, who is on pace to set career highs in many categories this season, has strongly improved his scoring and free throw shooting. In addition, he has improved by fouling less than last year: although he is committing more fouls per game this season, he has decreased his fouls per 36 minutes: 3.0 in 2019-20 compared to 3.3 in 2018-19. He’s playing more minutes than he has ever played before, and he is playing his best professional basketball while doing it.
Considering Smart’s strong defense, an important statistic to keep an eye out for is his number of fouls each game. When Smart commits at least 4 fouls, the 43-21 Celtics have struggled to the tune of a 5-10 record. In the last few years, Boston had much better records when Smart was in foul trouble, meaning that this year is a very important one for Smart to be on the court as much as possible.
Marcus Smart, the true heart and soul of the 2019-20 Celtics, is ready and willing to put his neck out there for everyone around him. His intangibles boost his teammates to new levels and are such an important part of why he and Boston have been such a great match. Although fans will not be seeing him on the court for the time being, he is and will continue to be a leader off of it.