Throwing Shade Isn’t Smart, Westbrook


Let me be the first to say that I’m very shocked at how well the Boston Celtics have played these last two games. I certainly believed that the upcoming games against the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder would be virtual locks in the loss column. It’s not that I don’t believe this Celtics team is a good, well-coached team. I just believed the talent department was desperately lacking  for them to be able to beat teams that have more.

However, the green and white, lead by Brad Stevens, decided to do their best Lee Corso impression yelling “not so fast” at me and the rest of the doubters out there. The Celtics have won their last two games in incredible fashion, and are certainly on the rise with expectations from those on the outside. Still, it doesn’t seem that everyone is a fan of the Celtics’ latest resurgence. The Thunder’s star point guard Russell Westbrook did his best McKayla Maroney impression after the game, leaving some to believe that the Celtics have him frustrated.

Oh my, those are some salty comments made by an elite point guard after a loss. If Marcus Smart hears this (which I’m sure he did), he has to feel as if he’s in Russell Westbrook’s head. Stevens talked about how Smart loves to play in Oklahoma City, and it certainly felt like Smart was back in college. He didn’t just have a great game, Smart had his best game to date as a professional basketball player. Twenty-six points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a +/- of +7 is a night that any NBA player would love to have when dealing with a team like the Thunder. Westbrook is such a tough matchup for many NBA point guards on a nightly basis, but it seemed that Smart was up for the task. Sorry Westbrook, until you face the Celtics in Boston, I will firmly believe that Smart can keep up with you on defense, despite what you said.

Russell Westbrook:
27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 turnovers, 3 steals, 5/20 shooting, +/- -7

Marcus Smart:
26 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal, 9/14 shooting, +/- +7

Hmmmm, I don’t think anyone had it “twisted” Westbrook. That’s a fine performance by the second-year guard. It’s the kind of production Celtics fans have been hoping for, and it’s great that some of his potential was being realized on the offensive end.

This win was a team effort (and not just Smart’s effort), that had Boston steal a win on the road. Particularly the second half was where the Celtics really stepped things up on defense (especially that fourth quarter). Right now this team is looking like one of the best defensive teams in the league. According to ESPN’s Hollinger stat, the team sports the fourth-best defensive efficiency stat at allowing 94.4 points per 100 possessions. Which is why they are able to win games that some might think they shouldn’t. However, Pro Basketball Talks’ Kurt Helin broke it down even further on what is the cause of this influx of defensive pressure. Mainly being that the team forces a lot of turnovers (with Jae Crowder leading the league in steals). The team as a whole has become ballhawks so far this season, and causes a lot of havoc in the passing lanes for opponents. That seems like a fundamental aspect that Brad Stevens would harp on more than other coaches for this season.

I couldn’t believe that the Celtics outscored the Thunder 28-11 to finish out the game. What was an even more of a surprise was that the team out rebounded the Thunder (47-34), with Jared Sullinger leading the charge by grabbing 15! He was a monster in the paint, and was proven by the the points in the paint advantage the team had. I don’t normally expect the Celtics to win those types of battles (just from past years futility), but Sullinger has certainly stayed as the team’s best paint player. While some might cringe at that fact, the Celtics will certainly take this kind of performance and production from the former OSU Buckeye.

This game was certainly easier to win with Kevin Durant out with a hamstring injury. This is probably why Westbrook cannot wait for a rematch with a point guard who can lock up with him. Still even without Durant, the Thunder had an MVP-candidate point guard and Serge Ibaka to pick up the slack (you can count Enes Kanter if you want). Normally that is enough to defeat the “star-less” Celtics on your own home court. While Smart can lead the team with potential talent, the Celtics really work well together, and proved that they are not a bottom-dwelling opponent. These comments made by Westbrook after the game doesn’t seem smart, and more like complaining that he was beat. Everyone knows how good Westbrook is, but whining about how another player outplayed you seems childish and beneath him. I can’t wait for the next meeting myself, because the result might be the same. 

Could this become a new heated rivalry between point guards? This over-saturated position certainly could use some new blood in Smart if he can become as good as some believe. Many fawn over his defensive ability, but it was nice to see him score more often. Not to mention it’d be great if he played more efficiently, but this latest game was a nice building block. Smart will now get another chance to showcase his talent as he faces off against the Houston Rockets (who I also thought would take down the Celtics easily before these last couple of wins). With the defense the Celtics sport, it might be a lot closer than some fans might have thought. Brad Stevens and Smart already made local fans believers of this team, now it’s time to convince the NBA world. So don’t throw shade their way Westbrook, it’s a bad look for you.

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*All stats courtesy of Hollinger Stat

C.J Maffris is a writer for He was a master at throwing shade back in the day. Feel free to give C.J a follow @SeaJayMaffris