The Celtics would benefit more from a Marcus Smart return than a Gordon Hayward one, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. The scribe suggests that the reserve guard would help the C’s snap out of their recent skid.
For starters, Blakely cites the drop in the Celtics’ defensive rating pre- and post-Smart injury. Boston was second in the NBA with a 99.7 defensive rating before he injured his hand and have been ninth since. Blakely also points to Smart’s effect on team chemistry and the pressure he takes off fellow defenders as reasons why the C’s would be buoyed by his return.
In late December it was announced that Smart would miss two weeks due to a hand laceration that may or may not have been sustained punching a picture frame. The 23-year-old is expected to be back in the lineup after the All-Star Break.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Nets will need to shore up their defense and rebounding if they want to turn a recent losing skid around after the All-Star Break, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “We’re trying the best we can to find the right lineups that work out there,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We’ve tried a bunch of stuff. We’ve gone small a ton, we’ve tried bigger lineups, we’ve tried two-guard lineups. We’re still searching.“
- The Raptors have put a possible Vince Carter reunion on hold for at least the rest of this season, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. Reports last week indicated that Toronto had interest in potentially bringing Carter back, but the Kings prefer not to buy out the veteran forward.
- The Knicks have limped into the All-Star break on an eight-game losing streak. Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, one of the 10 players chosen to represent the World Roster at the NBA Rising Starts Challenge tonight, hopes to take the weekend as an opportunity to take his mind off things and soak in advice, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.