Last time the Celtics and Rockets met, Marcus Smart stopped James Harden during the game’s two most crucial moments. Smart took two charges against the MVP candidate over the final 7.3 seconds of play, icing the Celtics’ incredible 26-point comeback victory. On Saturday, when the two teams face off again, Smart says he’s relishing the challenge of guarding Harden once more.
“I love (competing against Harden),” Smart told reporters after practice Thursday, via MassLive’s Jay King. “It’s an opportunity for me to challenge myself on the defensive end and each and every day I’m up for those type of challenges. My teammates and the coaching staff give me the confidence to have the ability to do that, when those opportunities come, to do everything I can in my ability to help this team win.”
Harden is coming off one of the more dazzling on-court moves in recent memory. His wicked crossover Wednesday brought Clippers forward Wesley Johnson to his knees, allowing Harden to pause and swish a three-pointer.
ICYMI: James Harden sent Wesley Johnson straight into retirement. pic.twitter.com/wyI6XFleAp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 1, 2018
Smart, for his part, didn’t want to talk about how he would react if Harden crossed him up.
“I’d rather not answer that,” he said.
That kind of confidence is one of the reasons why it’s easy to root for Smart, despite his penchant for hurling up ill-advised shots and recent picture-swiping incident. Harden is averaging 31.3 points, 8.9 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Yet, Smart wants to take the fight right to him.
The Celtics and Rockets are two of the hottest teams in the NBA. Houston is riding a 14-game winning streak, largely thanks to the brilliance of Harden and point guard Chris Paul. But Boston has won four straight games since the All-Star Break, winning each contest by an average of 15 points.
Full article @ Marcus Smart can’t wait for rematch against James Harden
Source: GreenStreet Blog