While some Celtics media members are wary of calling the Celtics a legitimate championship contender this season, in light of their recent fall from top-tier status to .500 (17-17) territory, Celtics radio color commentator Cedric Maxwell says there’s a missing link that’s being disappointingly overlooked by fans in Boston.
In his latest episode of the Cedric Maxwell Podcast, Maxwell highlighted the Celtics’ biggest flaws, of late. But, he’s hopeful that Boston can turn things around.
Cedric says he’s seen this year’s Celtics team play at a high level, they just haven’t been able to do it at a consistent rate. However, according to Max, the best is yet to come.
Cedric Maxwell On Celtics Missing Marcus Smart: ‘Without Him, You’re Not Going To Know Where You Stand’
While fans salivate over potential options for the Traded Player Exception, Cedric is hoping Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will take this opportunity to address the wing position. But, reminded Celtics fans that missing Marcus Smart, who’s recovering from a left calf injury, leaves an enormous void that cannot be filled.
“We’re missing that valuable part that we’re not talking about,” Maxwell said in his latest episode of the Cedric Maxwell Podcast. “How good this team is with Marcus Smart? That ends the conversation because you are missing one of the best players on your team. Without him, you’re not going to know where you stand until you get him back (and) until you make that trade (using the TPE).”
Losing Smart last month was an enormous blow to the Celtics’ backcourt. Plagued by a limited Kemba Walker, who was still regaining his strength and fatigue from missing the start of the season, head coach Brad Stevens’ backcourt was very thin.
Cedric Maxwell: ‘Take Out Mr. Russell, Take Out Garnett, Marus Smart Is The Best Defender The Celtics Have Ever Had’
However, Cedric believes Celtics fans’ short-term memory has forced them to only remember one side of Smart’s game — his streaky shooting. They’ve forgotten that Marcus, one of the greatest Celtics defenders of all-time, according to Maxwell, still fills a very critical role.
“As much as people talk about his offense, I think he’s very valuable offensively,” Maxwell explained. “But, defensively he is their man and without him, they have not been (the same). He has been, and I’ll say it again, under 7-feet tall — take out Mr. Russell, take out Garnett — Marcus Smart is the best defender the Celtics have ever had.”
It’s an interesting time of the regular season. It’s when players can typically smell the mid-season break from a mile away before the longing sets in.
In most cases, this affects teams’ morale. Players’ performances will either subconsciously dwindle the closer we get All-Star weekend or overly focused and dialed-in for the final two-game stretch and with the Celtics hosting the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday and the Toronto Raptors the following Thursday; coach Stevens hopes he’ll see the latter of the two.