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Marcus Smart Named A Finalist For NBA Defensive Player Of The Year

BOSTON (CBS) -- Marcus Smart took another step toward ending a 25-year drought in the NBA. The Celtics guard was announced as one of three finalists for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award on Sunday.

The last guard to win the award for the NBA's top defensive player was Gary Payton of the Seattle Supersonics in 1995-96. Payton recently went to bat for Smart, saying that he believes the Celtics guard should take home the hardware this season.

Smart certainly has the resume for the award. He anchored the NBA's best defense this season and owned a 107.1 defensive rating while averaging 1.7 steals per game. The 28-year-old is a two-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team, earning spots in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Asked about being named a finalists following Boston's Game 1 win over the Nets on Sunday, Smart said that he believes he should win the award, but said that his focus at the moment is elsewhere.

"I think my defense and my game speak for itself. But I'm really focused on this next game we have on Wednesday," he said of Boston's Game 2 tilt against the Brooklyn Nets. "It would be an honor to win it and it's an honor to be mentioned. But I'm planning for something bigger. Right now my focus is actually on the next game."

Smart is going up against defending Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges for this year's award. Voting for NBA awards wrapped up ahead of the playoffs, with winners set to be announced sometime before the NBA Finals.

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