Thursday, May 21, 2020

Celtics newly-anointed stretch 6 is what Marcus Smart calls himself. We will see his version of “rotation defense” tonight versus Philadelphia.

The Celtics have a newly-anointed stretch 6. There is nothing usual about Marcus Smart – and I love it. He can not be defined – absolutely defies description. When asked what his position on the court was, he replied “I’m a stretch 6.” Of course he is.


Marcus is not talking about his probable sixth-man role. He just invented a new position on the court. We already had 1-through-5, and he will be the only #6 on the floor. I am now convinced Smart can cover any opponent – of any height – any weight – any wingspan – any temperament – any level of strength or quickness.

 

We know all about rotation defenses, but Marcus does it differently – major surprise there, right? We saw it in his coverage of Giannis Antetokounmpo during World Cup play. The Greek Freak is long, strong and damned skilled. No problem. Smart’s strength and low center of gravity kept Giannis away from the hoop, and Marcus’ fronting of Antetokounmpo kept the ball out of the Greek’s hands.

 

Marcus was running circles around The Freak, giving a new meaning to the phrase, “rotation defense”. Here is MassLive’s John Karalis with his excellent analysis of that defense:

Marcus Smart guarded Giannis Antetokounmpo brilliantly

The Americans started the second quarter trying to regroup from a missed opportunity to build a lead with Giannis off the floor. Instead, because of Smart, they built one with him on it.

The thing that makes Smart effective against Antetokounmpo is that his hands are quick enough to disrupt Giannis’ drives while being strong enough to keep his position on the post. When Giannis tried to post up, Smart spun and fronted him, forcing the Greeks to consider a dangerous, high pass into traffic.

Antetokounmpo didn’t score in that second quarter run, and the U.S. built what was ultimately an insurmountable lead.


Expect to see Smart’s perimeter defense a lot, but his interior defense against bigger opponents has become legendary. Marcus circling around Joel Embiid may be what we see in tonight’s season opener against the 76’ers. Just don’t shove him again, Marcus!

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @_Celtics_Center and Facebook

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