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Ainge On Toucher & Rich: Smart Can Have Positive Impact Without Scoring

BOSTON (CBS) -- After going 0-for-8 from the field in his Celtics preseason debut against the 76ers, Marcus Smart found his shooting groove Wednesday night against the Knicks.

Smart got the start at point guard for the second straight game and went 4-for-8 from the floor (including 2-for-4 from three-point range) in Boston's 106-86 win at the XL Center in Hartford, scoring 11 points to go with six assists.

The sixth overall pick isn't known for his shooting, or for putting up big scoring numbers on a nightly basis, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge says that Smart will have an impact on every game without lighting up the scorer's sheet.

"Marcus has played great, I think, from the day he arrived. His summer league was fantastic, the USA basketball he played was fantastic, and from the first day of camp he's been terrific as well. I don't look at Marcus and look at his shooting numbers and all of that. He has such an impact on the game play-in and play-out. He's not only a terrific individual defender, but a great team defender, which is rare for a guy his age," Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on his weekly call into the show on Thursday.

"Making shots is a huge bonus for Marcus. If he is making shots, we're going to have a chance to beat anybody," said Ainge. "He's not a bad shooter; he's not known for his shooting and hasn't been a consistent shooter throughout his career. But he can still have a very positive impact on the game without shooting the ball."

One player Ainge and the Celtics are counting on to make shots is Evan Turner. He'll also see some time at point guard in the preseason and potentially throughout the season, and Ainge called the former second overall pick "a very unique player."

"He's terrific in transition and may be our best player at beating people off the dribble," Ainge said of Turner, who had nine points and four assists against the Knicks on Wednesday. "He uses his body and changes direction really well with the ball. He gets into the paint and makes plays for himself and for others. He's one of our best transition players and is a great rebounder."

Ainge wouldn't say much about the new $24 billion television deal the NBA recently announced, but he did share his thoughts on the rumor that former Celtic Ray Allen could be following LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"It wouldn't surpise me; Ray can really help them," said Ainge. "But I anticipate that Ray will wait and see the landscape of the NBA. That's just my guess. I think he'll wait and see how everyone is clicking. There are a number of teams who are fighting for a championship that would like Ray on their roster.

"He might wait until January even and see which teams are playing well, the healthiest and who he can help the most. He may want to see how it all unfolds before he makes his decision," said Ainge.

Having one of his former players "chasing a championship" as his career winds down doesn't bother Ainge in the least.

"The rules indicate that that's what you can do. If he goes to one of the contending teams he'll make a minimum salary. He's been a max guy in his career, so that's his right to try to win a championship," said Ainge. "It's the way the CBA is structured, and different from the 80s and 90s. I don't blame Ray trying to find a perfect fit for him as he tries to finish his career."


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