Maybe there's something to Marcus Smart's 'stretch six' nonsense


There’s a five-inch difference between Marcus Smart (6-foot-3) and Kevin Love (6-foot-8). Love also outweighs Smart by 31 pounds. Yet somehow the Celtics guard managed to put up a fight against the Cavaliers big man on Tuesday.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Smart has had to take on a big man with a significant size advantage. He’s had to handle Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well.

Smart likes to joke that his ability to guard anyone, from a one to a five, puts him in a category of his own: the stretch six. It may sound ridiculous, but consider what Kevin Love had to say after Boston’s win in Cleveland.

“(The Celtics will) put him on the top player on every team,” Love told reporters. “He’ll guard LeBron (James), he’ll guard Giannis (Antetokounmpo), he’ll guard James Harden, he’ll guard Steph Curry. I mean, that’s what he gets paid to do. He’s really tough out there. He can guard anybody one through five, and he’s a difference-maker for the team.”

Asked Kevin Love about Marcus Smart as an individual defender and the job that he against him on the block tonight. Awesome answer here.

— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) November 6, 2019

Now, there’s probably a limit to who Smart can guard effectively. At some point, size becomes a factor. But the Celtics don’t necessarily need Smart to guard someone like Joel Embiid or Myles Turner.

Low post defense wasn’t the Celtics’ lone problem entering the season. It seemed like the biggest issue because both Al Horford and Aron Baynes were gone.

In reality, the bigger problem was, without Horford, the Celtics didn’t have anyone who could guard the tall wings and skilled forwards — in a league where those are typically the best scorers on the top teams.

At least, that’s how things seemed.

Smart is an outstanding defender, no one’s going to deny that. Though, what he’s trying to do — taking on players someone his size normally wouldn’t — is a big ask.

But if players around the league are acknowledging Smart’s defense against the bigger opponents — especially the wings and forwards he’s guarding — Smart must be doing something right.

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