James Harden is going to see Marcus Smart in his sleep for the next few days.
Sure, the Rockets’ star will move on, and likely move on quickly, but he’ll be hard-pressed to forget the defensive number Smart pulled on him in the final seconds of the Celtics’ 99-98 win over Houston.
Down 98-95 with 11.6 seconds left, Boston got a quick bucket off the inbounds, cutting the Rockets’ lead to one. Houston then had to get the ball back in play under its own baseline, which led to Smart drawing an offensive foul on Harden for a push off.
The Celtics got the ball back and scored on an Al Horford hook shot, which set up the same scenario as before, but this time with the Celtics up by one.
Cue to Harden trying desperately to get open while Smart blanketed him in the backcourt with his hands clearly out and disengaged from the Houston star. Harden tried one more shoulder shove to try to get separation, which led to one more offensive foul against him and a Boston win.
You can see the whole sequence here:
It was great defense by Smart mixed with perhaps a bit of showmanship. Either way, it got the win for the Celtics — who stormed back from being down by 26 at one point in the third quarter.