Cleveland (92.3 the Fan) – Celtics Coach Brad Stevens said post-game Sunday that after the Cavaliers’ hot shooting first half, that the law of averages would come into play.
If that were the case for all things, Marcus Smart may not hit another 3-pointer in his career.
Statistically, Marcus Smart is the worst 3-point shooter in NBA history. Seriously. Of players who take four 3-pointers a game, Smart’s .291 percentage is the worst in the history of the league.
The point guard hit 7-of-10 from deep in Game 3, fueling a comeback from down 21, and setting his playoff career high along the way with 27.
The fill-in starter for the injured Isaiah Thomas played almost 42 minutes in relief, all with the mindset that he had nothing to lose. The third-year player played freely in Thomas’s absence, enabling the rest of his team to do the same.
LeBron James named Smart’s shooting as a factor of momentum, which he said was the reason for Boston’s comeback.
Stevens was asked about Smart’s struggles as a shooter, dating back to his emergence at Oklahoma State, but said he trusts his guy because of the size of the moment.
“We can talk about his shooting all year long, but you know when it’s in a big moment, that kid is going to rise to the occasion. He just always has,” Stevens said. “In this moment, when he needed him the most, he made huge shots.”
A player’s own head coach will say that he is trusted in big moments, but the opposition may be a little more brutally honest. Kyrie Irving’s eyes got incredulously wide when asked about Smart’s night from deep, and Cavs Head Coach Ty Lue mentioned the matter multiple times to highlight how unlikely it was.
“Some of the shots he was taking, definitely, we need to be prepared for going forward, especially myself. Make it tougher for me,” Irving said. “He hit two behind a screen, then he started to come up with a rhythm dribble and hit some 3-pointers and some tough ones as well. That really kept them in the game right there. That responsibility falls on me, and going forward, I have to be better.”
There was plenty of responsibility to go around the Cavs locker room after the stunning loss, but while there was blame to be had for not being at their peak level, the fact of the matter was that Smart was allowed to take shots. He then converted those shots at an unsustainable rate.
If – and you know what they say about ifs – Smart even his 50% of his 3s, nearly double his career average, the Cavaliers still hold on to win by 3.
LeBron could have performed much better, but it should not be an issue if LeBron is not LeBron when Irving, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love did in Game 3. The 21-point lead was not one that should have been able to be compromised in any situation.
Despite a horrid second half by Cleveland, it still took an Avery Bradley 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to win on the road. It took Marcus Smart taking and converting an unsustainable amount of triples to even get to that point.
The performance by the Cavaliers was poor, but the performance of Marcus Smart was all that made it note-worthy.
The performance of Marcus Smart is unsustainable, by way of the law of averages.