Marcus Smart

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marcus Smart headline All-Defensive teams

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NBA teams scored more points per possession this season than ever.

But a few players stood out for slowing the offensive onslaught.

The All-Defensive teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, voting points in parentheses):

First team

Guard: Marcus Smart, BOS (63-19-145)

Guard: Eric Bledsoe, MIL (36-28-100)

Forward: Paul George, OKC (96-3-195)

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL (94-5-193)

Center: Rudy Gobert, UTA (97-2-196)

Second team

Guard: Jrue Holiday, MIN (31-28-90)

Guard: Klay Thompson, GSW (23-36-82)

Forward: Draymond Green, GSW (2-57-61)

Forward: Kawhi Leonard, TOR (5-29-39)

Center: Joel Embiid, PHI (4-72-80)

Also receiving votes: Danny Green, TOR (19-28-66); Patrick Beverley, LAC (14-20-48); Myles Turner, IND (1-37-39); P.J. Tucker, HOU (1-36-38); Pascal Siakam, TOR (0-24-24); Derrick White, SAS (4-7-15); Russell Westbrook, OKC (2-5-9); Jimmy Butler, PHI (2-5-9); Chris Paul, HOU (1-5-7); Robert Covington, MIN (1-3-5); Paul Millsap, DEN (0-5-5); James Harden, HOU (2-0-4); Al Horford, BOS (0-4-4); Kevin Durant, GSW (0-4-4); Malcolm Brogdon, MIL (1-1-3); Josh Richardson, MIA (0-3-3); Kyle Lowry, TOR (0-3-3)
Stephen Curry, GSW (1-0-2); Thaddeus Young, IND (0-2-2); Anthony Davis, NOP (0-2-2); Ben Simmons, PHI (0-2-2); Donovan Mitchell, UTA (0-2-2); Derrick Favors, UTA (0-2-2); Joe Ingles, UTA (0-2-2); Jaylen Brown, BOS (0-1-1); Kyrie Irving, BOS (0-1-1); Ed Davis, BRK (0-1-1); Gary Harris, DEN (0-1-1); Nikola Jokic, DEN (0-1-1); Andre Drummond, DET (0-1-1); Andre Iguodala, GSW (0-1-1); Jordan Bell, GSW (0-1-1); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (0-1-1); Mike Conley, MEM (0-1-1); Kyle Anderson, MEM (0-1-1); Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-1-1); Khris Middleton, MIL (0-1-1); Brook Lopez, MIL (0-1-1); Terrance Ferguson, OKC (0-1-1); Damian Lillard, POR (0-1-1); De’Aaron Fox, SAC (0-1-1); Ricky Rubio, UTA (0-1-1); Bradley Beal, WAS (0-1-1)

Observations:

  • This voting could foreshadow a tight Defensive Player of the Year race. The three finalists for that award – Rudy Gobert, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo – each received a high majority of votes, but not unanimity, at their positions. Or Gobert could just cruise to another victory.
  • I have no major complaints about the selections. I would have put Danny Green (who finished fifth among guards) on the first team, bumped down Eric Bledsoe and excluded Klay Thompson. I also would have give second-team forward to P.J. Tucker (who finished fifth among forwards) over Kawhi Leonard. Here are our picks for reference.
  • P.J. Tucker came only one voting point from the second team. If he tied Kawhi Leonard, both players would have made it on an expanded six-player second team.
  • Leonard hasn’t defended with the same verve this season. He remains awesome in stretches, particular in the playoffs. But his effort in the regular season didn’t match his previous level. Defensive reputations die hard.
  • It’s a shame Thaddeus Young received only two second-team votes. My general rule is you can complain about a lack of votes for only players you picked, and I didn’t pick Young. But he came very close to P.J. Tucker for my final forward spot, Young had a stronger case than several forwards ahead of him.
  • James Harden got two first-team votes. Did someone think they were voting for All-NBA? Stephen Curry also got a first-team vote. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard got second-team votes. Nikola Jokic got a second-team vote. Kevin Durant got a few second-team votes. There’s plenty of All-NBA/All-Defensive overlap with other frontcourt players. There could easily be an incorrectly submitted ballot.
  • But that still leaves a second Harden first-team vote with no other plausible explanation. Someone must really love steals, guaring in the post and absolutely no other aspects of defense.
  • Jordan Bell got a second-team vote at forward. He’s a decent defender, but someone who played fewer minutes than Dirk Nowitzki, Bruno Caboclo and Omari Spellman this season. Bell also primarily played center. Weird.

Marcus Smart says blaming Kyrie Irving for Celtics’ fall is BS

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Celtics fans all but had pitchforks and torches, ready to run Kyrie Irving out of town after he struggled against the Bucks and was at the heart of Boston being eliminated from the playoffs. They are not alone, one player called Irving difficult to play with. Then there was this comment from someone with the Cavaliers to Jeff Goodman of Stadium:

“Doesn’t want to listen to anybody,” a Cavs source told me about Irving. “I’ve been around more selfish guys, but when you add up those three – moody, immature and tough to coach – he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

While there is plenty of blame to go around — starting with Danny Ainge knowing he had a potentially combustible locker room — down through all the players, it was Irving that has become the focal point. He is the guy Celtics fans want to go. He is taking the most blame after a series where he shot 35.6 percent overall and 21.9 percent from three — in five games against the Bucks he scored 102 points on 104 shots.

Marcus Smart came to Irving’s defense, via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

“Bulls***. That’s bulls***,” said Smart. “Not one of us on this team knows what Kyrie’s been through. Probably a few amount of people in this world knows what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well.

“He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships, where he had to come into a situation knowing that this is a group of guys that had something going before I come here. ‘How will I fit in?’ He didn’t want to disrupt that. And that says a lot. This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about. And he’s talking about coming in and disrupting us.”

It looked like he did disrupt things, at least on the court. Irving is a great isolation player, but that took the Celtics out of the ball-and-player-movement style Brad Stevens wants, and that worked in the postseason a year ago.

Boston and Ainge have some decisions to make this summer about what kind of team they are trying to build. Irving has a decision about where he wants to play next season. Those two things may not work well together.

It’s going to be a hot summer in Boston come July.

 

Marcus Smart available for Celtics in critical Game 4

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Just in time.

Heading into a game where the Celtics’ season essentially hangs in the balance — not to mention the off-season implications that would come with Boston being bounced in the second round — Marcus Smart will be back in the Celtics’ rotation.

Smart had been out since the final game of the regular season with a  left oblique tear.

In a series where defense has been king and offenses have struggled — the Bucks are 5.5 and the Celtics 5.4 points per 100 possessions worse than their regular season numbers — the Celtics now bring back the best defensive guard in the NBA this past season. He also shot 36.4 percent from three this season.

More than that, Smart brings tenacity, grit, and energy to the Celtics when he is on the court.

Boston needs that at home in Game 4 because lose this game to the Bucks and things will get desperate in Bean Town.

Marcus Smart likely to practice with Celtics on Sunday

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The Boston Celtics could use Marcus Smart right now. The NBA Finals-hopeful team has racked up two straight losses against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, and they are having a hard time stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo and his buddies at the moment.

Smart, who has been out since he final game of the regular season with a left oblique tear, is a tenacious defender. He would also add more dynamism on the offensive side of the ball, and could help the Celtics find a way to run on all cylinders instead of just farting around as they often do.

The Oklahoma State product had been ruled out for the entirety of the first two rounds of the playoffs, and now Smart is starting to resume basketball activities. According to Celtics coach Brad Stevens, Smart has the potential to practice with the team on Sunday as he tries to get back into a position to play in the postseason.

Via Twitter:

These playoffs have been the story of injured players coming back and contributing for their team despite injury. Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George and his shoulders, Portland Trail Blazers big man Enes Kanter and his left shoulder, Stephen Curry and whatever ails him at the moment, James Harden and his bloody eyes… the list goes on.

Getting Smart back on a floor for Boston wouldn’t fix everything for the Celtics. Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are still the favorites, and they would be hard to beat even if Boston had Smart back at full strength. But the return of a player like Smart could be both a production and emotional boost, and it’s good to see that he is getting back into practice at the very least.

Kyrie Irving, Al Horford lead Celtics past Bucks 112-90 in opener

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MILWAUKEE (AP) Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 11 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Boston Celtics cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 112-90 on Sunday in the opener of their second-round playoff series.

Jaylen Brown chipped in with 19 points and Gordon Hayward had 13 off the bench for the Celtics. Boston controlled the game for long stretches and played stingy defense against MVP candidate Giannis Antetokoumpo, who scored 22 points but shot just 7 for 21. Antetokounmpo didn’t make his first field goal until the first minute of the second quarter.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Milwaukee.

Khris Middleton had 16 for Milwaukee, which completed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons on Monday and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Celtics came off a sweep of their own against Indiana.

The Celtics knocked Milwaukee out of the playoffs in seven games last year, winning the final game at home. This year, Milwaukee is the top seed in the East and has home-court advantage throughout the postseason after posting the NBA’s best record, but Boston didn’t play like an underdog in any way.

The Celtics jumped out early, leading by as many as 11 in the opening quarter. Boston shot 52% while the Bucks shot only 5 of 19.

The shooting woes continued for the Bucks until midway through the second quarter, when Milwaukee used a 15-0 run to pull even at 40. The teams then traded baskets with the Celtics grabbing a 52-50 lead at the half.

Boston used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to again build a double-digit lead, which grew to as much as 21 as Milwaukee again failed to make shots.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Boston players wore a black stripe with the No. 17 on their jerseys to honor Hall of Famer John Havlicek, who died Thursday at the age of 79. The team won eight championships during Havlicek’s 16 seasons with the Celtics. Havlicek was the MVP of the 1974 NBA Finals when the Celtics defeated the Bucks in Game 7 at the MECCA in Milwaukee. A moment of silence was held before tipoff. . G Marcus Smart traveled to Milwaukee but wasn’t in uniform. Smart has been out since suffering a left oblique tear on April 7. Smart has been practicing with the team but isn’t expected play in Game 2 either. “I don’t see any way that he’s available until what we thought initially, four to six (weeks) and I said at the start that four seems awfully aggressive,” coach Brad Stevens said. ….F/C Aron Baynes left the game in the third quarter after rolling his left ankle.

Bucks: Starting guard Malcolm Brogdon, who is recovering from a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot, remained out but took part in shooting drills before the game. He’s also expected to miss Game 2 before being re-evaluated. The 2017 Rookie of the Year has been out since March 15. . Center Pau Gasol (left foot soreness) was inactive. He missed the final 15 regular-season games and didn’t play in the opening round. There’s no timetable for his return.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

This story has been corrected to show the final score was 112-90 in the first paragraph.