The Celtics have gotten this far thanks in large part to their defensive identity. In 18 postseason games this year, the Celtics have allowed just 101.0 points per contest.
Of course, much of their defensive success revolves around guard Marcus Smart, who took home Defensive Player of the Year honors this season.
The 28-year-old is set to play in his first NBA Finals, and he’s going to have his hands full defensively with Warriors superstar Stephen Curry. While guarding Curry is certainly an intimidating challenge, Smart recently made it very clear that it’s an honor to be tasked with doing so at this stage.
“First off, this is such a special opportunity and a special assignment to have in guarding Steph on this stage,” Smart told Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports. “My first Finals appearance going against one of the greatest who has been here and done it multiple times as the best shooters we have ever seen. I just take the assignment like any other matchup, but this one I’m probably focused a bit more. I’m studying every aspect of his game, just making sure I try to understand to the best of my ability. And I’m really going to make sure I get my rest and my sleep to make sure I’m ready to go.”
So far in the 2022 postseason, Curry is averaging 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 38.0 percent from deep. The eight-time All-Star is trying to win his fourth NBA title, and he’s just four wins away from getting it.
Smart and the Celtics would love to prevent that from happening. The Warriors are regarded as slight favorites going into the series, but Boston certainly has what it takes to make life difficult for Golden State.
Game 1 of the series is set for Thursday. Smart will look to contain Curry and give the Celtics a 1-0 series lead in the process.