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How moving Marcus Smart to point guard made Celtics title contenders

Yaron WeitzmanFOX Sports
Boston Celtics
NBA Finals
the Miami Heat
the Western Conference
Eastern Conference
NBA Defensive Player
Second Spectrum
Tatum and Brown

Marcus Smart’s
Ime Udoka
Kenny Boren
Vonzell Thomas
Danny Ainge
Isaiah Thomas
Kyrie Irving
Kemba Walker
LeBron James
Brad Stevens
Zach Lowe
Jeff Van Gundy
Dennis Schroder
Scott Morrison
Kevin Durant
pass."Yaron Weitzman

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The New York Times
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It was the summer of 2021, and he was coming home from a meeting with new Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who had just told Smart that he’d be entering the upcoming season as the team’s starting point guard."And there was just this confidence and relief in his body language," recalled Kenny Boren, Smart’s high school coach, who greeted him that day.Nearly nine months later, the Celtics are just two victories away from making their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010. But the decision to shift Smart over to the point is chief among them."I think everybody in the organization — in the world — has seen what I can do at that point guard position," Smart told reporters after leading the Celtics with 24 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds in their 127-102 thumping of the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. The team’s strong play convinced Stevens and Udoka that it was time to part with Dennis Schroder — a shoot-first point guard the Celtics had signed the previous offseason — and fully lean into Smart as the primary table-setter.The Celtics’ offense took off. The Celtics finished the season 13th in assist rate, a 10-spot leap from the previous year."Being the point guard that I am," Smart said recently, "I take a lot of pressure off our guys so they don’t have to try to force it as much, so they can be who they are."No moment better illustrates Smart’s new approach — and the way it lifts the entire team — than the final seconds of the Celtics’ first win of this year’s playoffs.

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