Marcus Smart would like to submit a humble suggestion to the Boston Celtics: Play the rest of the team’s games in Oklahoma City.
The Celtics point guard went off Sunday night, scoring a career-high 26 points and playing impressive defense on star Russell Westbrook in a statement win over the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
It was Smart’s best offensive performance of his young career, as the second-year guard topped his previous career high of 25 points. And when did he do that? That’d be March 18 of last season, against the same Thunder, in the same arena.
“I think he likes this gym,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game in an interview aired on CSN New England.
That’s a bit of an understatement, Brad.
Smart now has scored 51 points in two career games at OKC while knocking down 60 percent of his shots (17 for 28). He has buried 10 of 17 attempts from 3-point range and ripped down 17 total rebounds in the two contests.
“It just feels good to play in front of some familiar faces and (have) the support that the city gives us,” Smart told CSN New England’s Abby Chin in a postgame interview aired on the network.
The Celtics point guard played his college ball at Oklahoma State — about an hour’s drive north of Oklahoma City — and grew up in northern Texas, about three hours south of the state capital. It was clear early on in Sunday’s contest that Smart felt confident and comfortable, even with a formidable opponent in Westbrook on the other end.
Smart augmented his offensive effort by playing tough, ferocious defense against the four-time All-Star. Smart and Avery Bradley took turns trying to slow down Westbrook, but it was Smart who got into the Thunder guard’s grill on several occasions, prompting color analyst Brian Scalabrine to compare their feisty play to an “old-fashioned bar fight.”
“Just two competitive guys going at it who hate losing more than they love winning,” Smart added. “So we were just going at it and having a great battle out there.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) handles the ball while being guarded by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the third quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena.