TORONTO — When Marcus Smart saw the tweet from the Panini America, he was stunned. It was a picture of himself on a trading card, a shiny display with a white strip that featured his autograph.

It was Smart’s first basketball card, an impressive picture of the muscular rookie in a Celtics road uniform grabbing a rebound, taken this summer at a photo shoot during the league’s rookie symposium.

Smart retweeted the picture shortly after receiving it. His NBA dream was coming to fruition.

“It’s crazy, it’s unreal,” he said Friday before the Celtics’ 116-109 exhibition loss to the Toronto Raptors. “I wake up and on my Twitter, Panini tweets it and I’m just like, ‘Oh, wow.’ My phone’s blowing up from friends and family saying they ‘can’t wait to get the rookie card, when it’s coming out?’ I have no clue. It is a humbling feeling and it makes you appreciate things a lot more.”

Smart has experienced a whirlwind few months after a difficult sophomore season at Oklahoma State. He was drafted sixth overall by the Celtics, participated with the USA Select team, and is the primary candidate to start at point guard with Rajon Rondo recovering from a fractured left hand.

“It’s like all the work I’ve been putting in since high school and on, it’s been paying off,” Smart said. “I thank God for that.”

Smart had 9 points and seven assists Friday night, but shot just 1 of 7 from 3-point range and 2 of 8 from the field.

Smart is beginning to develop a defensive chemistry with backcourt mate Avery Bradley. Coach Brad Stevens has been raving about Smart’s defensive instincts but wants to see improvement. On Friday, Smart struggled defending Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and admitted he gave the standout guard …read more