BOSTON (CBS) -- Celtics fans, and Boston opponents, are well aware of Marcus Smart's abilities on the defensive end of the floor. The Celtics guard has finally received the ultimate recognition for his play on that side of the ball.
Smart was named the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, becoming the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton took home the honor in 1996. Payton was in Boston on Monday to break the news to Smart and his Celtics teammates. (You can see that moment in the video above.)
That joyous moment came after the Celtics held a film session of Sunday's 115-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Smart locked down Kyrie Irving on Brooklyn's final possession of the game, and then assisted on Jayson Tatum's game-winning layup at the buzzer.
As for the 2021-22 season, Smart was sixth in the NBA with 1.7 steals per game and ranked fifth in defensive win shares with 10.3. The Celtics defense led the NBA with a 106.2 defensive rating, while Smart ranked fifth among all guards with a 105.2 defensive rating. That rating was good for ninth overall in the NBA.
The feisty Celtics guard now joins Kevin Garnett as the only two Celtics players to win Defensive Player of the Year honors. Garnett won the award for the 2008 season, his first in Boston.
Smart was asked Monday night if he feels any added pressure now that he has a DPOY to his name.
"Not really. Pressure is not knowing what you're doing, and this is what I do," he said confidently. "I'm trying to become one of the best ones to do it and with this award, it continues to help me and show me there is still more to go, and to continue the path that I'm on."
Smart received 37 first-place votes and 257 points total, beating out Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (202 points) and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert (136 points) of the Utah Jazz.
He had a simple message for all of his doubters out there: Keep it going.
"I've always said that without those naysayers and doubters, what we like to call 'haters,' I wouldn't be able to do what I do," Smart said Monday night. "So I say thank you, keep it up."
Smart has also earned first-team All-Defensive honors twice in his career, for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.
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