Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has developed a reputation around the NBA as an aggressive defender, but the second-year product of Oklahoma State is also developing a growing reputation as being a flopper. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Smart said being labeled a flopper is not going to change the way he plays the game of basketball.
“Not at all. I’m gonna play my game and play hard every day,” Smart said via ESPN. “That’s something the coach and this organization doesn’t have to worry about. I feel like the rest of my teammates are gonna pick it up also. I’m not worried about all the other stuff that comes with it. I just play my game.”
Already nominated three times by the Internet for “Flop of the Year,” Smart’s latest acting job came with just 6.2 seconds to play in Monday’s 124-122 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Down just 1, the tenacious guard tried to draw a whistle while trapping Zach LaVine. Smart was obviously bumped in the face, but launched backward and grabbed his mouth in an effort to draw an offensive foul. The acting job didn’t work, but can’t fault him for trying to get his team the ball back.
While Smart is hardly the only NBA player who flops, the growing reputation could affect how officials call plays when Marcus Smart is involved, especially on defense. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he isn’t worried about how Smart plays the game.
“I don’t lose sleep over those things. I do think you just have to be conscious of making the right basketball play,” Stevens said on Wednesday in response to Smart’s increasing reputation. “We’ve talked about that. We met and talked about that a little bit [on Wednesday]. He’s a young player, and he’s got a lot of games in front of him.”
Stevens also addressed the need to cut down on the amount of fouls Smart draws per game. While Smart’s defensive aggressiveness has earned him 3.1 hacks per game, the Celtics coach is trying to get the second-year guard to cut down on those fouls and at the same time continue to live as a defensive specialist.
“Defensively, [if] your job is to get into the ball and avoid the screen, to challenge by chasing somebody, to challenge by going under a screen and then meeting them there or if you’re fronting the low post, whatever the case may be, whatever your job is, to make the right next play, and to do it full-go without fouling is the goal of our whole team,” Stevens said. “We haven’t done a great job of that and so, that’s really my focus with him and with other guys.”