SAN ANTONIO — Marcus Smart said he hears his critics, understands his weaknesses and detractors, yet that doesn’t deter him from constantly trying to make an impact on the game. So far so good for Smart this season.
Pressed into playing starting point guard while Kemba Walker missed the first 13 games to rehabilitate his left knee, Smart has averaged a career best in assists (6.2) while his scoring output has been uneven.
He was averaging 14.6 points this month entering Wednesday night’s 110-106 loss to the San Antonio Spurs but on 41 percent shooting and 26.9 percent from the 3-point line.
There are good Smart nights, and not-so good Smart nights. One aspect of his game that has improved, however, is his midrange shooting. He was shooting 44.4 percent on shots from 10 to 16 feet, a career high. And he’s also made 46.5 percent of his 2-point shots, the second-highest clip of his six seasons.
Smart said he works feverishly on his game and will continue to be himself, despite the critics who say he shoots too much and too carelessly.
“I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing, the same thing with my 3-point ability,” he said before Wednesday night’s loss, in which he had 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting, 2 for 7 from three. “I’m able to shoot the ball, shoot with confidence, not really give an [expletive] what anybody says, don’t care, it’s about me shooting. I know I get [expletive] a lot, but who cares? Just go out there and continue to do it. My teammates trust me. I know what I can do, just because I’m not doing it every night.
“We have a stacked team, so a lot of times, the stuff that I do does go unnoticed. It’s nothing new, nothing different that I haven’t been doing, it’s just with those guys out there was more opportunities for me to show the skill set.”
Smart also said he’s got a pinched nerve in his right shoulder, meaning that it cause significant discomfort when hit in the wrong place.
“Sometimes when I get hit in certain moments, it will affect me more than others,” he said. “The stingers that I get usually last 30 seconds or it could last five minutes, depending on how the body reacts. It’s been hanging a couple of times during games but for the most part it’s been doing great.”
Edwards stepping up
Carsen Edwards is not only beginning to play more but is flourishing in his minutes. Earlier this week, coach Brad Stevens said with limited practice time, he was going to have to give his reserves a chance to prove themselves in games. Edwards scored 18 points in 19 minutes in Sunday’s 141-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He played more meaningful minutes the next night in Chicago and scored 6 points with two steals in 12 minutes. He wasn’t able to follow up against the Spurs, going scoreless in four minutes.
After playing sparingly in the first three weeks, Edwards has received some surprise minutes and looked more comfortable than his rookie season, when he struggled to make shots and defend.
“I still believe there’s a lot of room for improvement for me,” he said. “I’m not going to say the game’s completely slowed down but it’s just seeing stuff and try to find ways to improve.”
Edwards revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 and was in the league’s protocol. Edwards was in a car in Miami with teammates Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and Tristan Thompson but was wearing a mask. Robert Williams tested positive for COVID-19 while Thompson and Grant Williams were placed in protocol because of contact tracing.
Edwards was not placed in protocol immediately but was a few days later after testing positive.
“I had symptoms for a couple of days; I lost my taste and my smell for a couple of days,” he said. “The first nights were rough but after that I was in quarantine, just trying to stay out of the way and get healthy. But I feel fine now.”
Said Smart: “He’s playing like the Carsen we know, the Carsen at Purdue. For him to comeback and play with the confidence the way he has, especially coming back from that protocol is a good sign for him and for us. We’re proud of him. That’s the Carsen that we need. He has to play with that confidence because if he doesn’t, he gets in his own head and stops himself from the potential to shine.”
Stevens said he has been told one of the team’s three postponed games has a makeup date but wouldn’t reveal which one. The Celtics had games against the Heat, Bulls, and Magic postponed because of COVID-19 protocol … The Spurs’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans was postponed Monday because of COVID-19 concerns but coach Gregg Popovich said it did not involve anyone on the team’s roster, so they were cleared to play Wednesday. The Celtics waited in snowy Chicago on Tuesday morning until the league gave them noticed that Wednesday’s game was likely to be played before they traveled to Texas.