Marcus Smart made his first start of the season Monday night for the Boston Celtics.
In fact, it worked out so well that former Celtics All-Star Paul Pierce would like Boston coach Brad Stevens to at least consider keeping Smart in the starting lineup moving forward.
“The good thing about having Smart out there is it gives them a player out there with a defined role,” Pierce said Tuesday on ESPN’s “The Jump.” “He’s a defender, he can knock down shots, he’s a ball handler. You have these other guys — Jaylen Brown, (Jayson) Tatum, Gordon (Hayward) — they’re all kind of like stars, they’re go-to guys. So, you bring in a guy (like Smart), it’s just like saying sometimes, ‘Less is more.’ He’s not as talented as Gordon or Tatum, but he has a defined role and he plays winning basketball.”
Smart was thrust into starting action thanks to Jaylen Brown missing Monday’s game with a tailbone injury. There’s a case to be made that Smart should remain in the starting lineup even with Brown healthy, though, as the Celtics have struggled for much of this season and Smart brings a certain tenacity, particularly on the defensive end.
Kyrie Irving vouched for Smart after Monday’s game, pointing to Boston’s defensive mindset in the victory and his veteran teammate’s impact on both ends of the floor. Stevens acknowledged Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub that he’s leaning toward keeping Smart in the starting lineup.
So, how will Stevens go about doing this with Brown healthy? Brown could slide into a bench role — much like the struggling Gordon Hayward just did — or Stevens could choose to start Brown alongside Smart and move Marcus Morris back to the bench. The latter would require Tatum to play the four, with Irving and Al Horford penciled in at point guard and center, respectively.