As a catalyst for the top statistical defense in basketball this season, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart looks to bring home a major accolade after he was officially nominated as a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year on Sunday.
He is one of three finalists, alongside Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges and Utah’s Rudy Gobert.
Smart is a two-time All-Defensive team member through his tenacity, which has been the calling card of his career. This season, Smart also set a career-high in addition to leading Boston’s defense, which posted a league-best team defensive rating at 106.2. If he wins, Smart would become the first guard to win Defensive Player of the Year since Hall of Famer Gary Payton took home the award in 1996.
The announcement of the finalists came shortly after the Celtics’ 115-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal playoff series. Smart scored 20 points to go with six assists, seven rebounds, and two steals. One of his swipes came off an errant inbound pass by Kyrie Irving, which Smart finished for a bucket en route to the win.