The Boston Celtics just finished off their first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets. They were the first team to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs and the only team in the league to sweep their first-round opponent. In turn, they remain the only undefeated team in this year’s postseason.
Heading into the series, most people expected it to be closely contested. In a survey run by ESPN, more than half of the NBA analysts they asked picked the Nets to win the series, initially. Everywhere you looked people predicted this series would go six or seven games.
All of that could have been avoided, however, if the Celtics had lost the last game of the season. Boston took on the Memphis Grizzlies in their final game of the year, and if they had lost that game, it would have meant a first-round date with the Toronto Raptors rather than the Nets. But instead of resting players, the Celtics played their normal guys and stomped Memphis.
This led to plenty of controversies. Some stated that Boston was foolish to not avoid Brooklyn, others liked their competitive mindset of embracing the competition, and it was even reported that some people within the Celtics organization disagreed with the decision not to dodge Brooklyn. However, after their sweep of the Nets, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart weighed in on those thoughts.
Smart Claps Back at Popular Celtics Opinion
After Boston’s Game 4 win over Brooklyn, Smart was asked about these popular ideas. He said that not only did the Celtics hear the chatter, but they found it entertaining:
I mean, we heard it, we all heard. It’s funny to us. Because we don’t duck or dodge nobody. And that’s part of the game. We were gonna have to play them eventually. So you might as well get it out the way now.
The Celtics point guard averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.3 steals in the four-game series. He shot 42.1 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from behind the three-point line. Smart’s impact was mainly felt on the defensive side of the floor, though, where he acted as the primary defender on Kyrie Irving for the majority of the series.
Smart, Ime Udoka, and the rest of the team have constantly emphasized the fact that the Celtics are “worried about themselves” and were never trying to dodge anybody. Smart re-emphasized this point after their sweep of the Nets.
Smart Discusses Celtics Playoff Mentality
In turn with his comments about those who thought the Celtics should have dodged the Nets, Smart also talked about how it felt to earn the first-round victory. He said that the team has an “us vs. everybody” mentality, and that’s how they’re going to continue to think throughout the rest of the postseason:
So, I mean, It does feel good. We knew what we were capable of. We know we wanted to come in here and do, regardless of what anybody else did, and that’s okay. It’s us versus everybody. And that’s the mentality we have. And that’s the mentality we’re gonna keep.
Boston’s airtight defense attacked Kevin Durant and Irving for the entire series. Brooklyn’s two superstars were given little breathing room as the Celtics’ cohesiveness was shown off on the defensive end of the floor for the entirety of the series.
The Celtics will now face the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls series in the second round of the playoffs. With that matchup still ongoing, the Celtics will get some time off before they play their next game. Depending on when the Bucks and Bulls’ series wraps up, Boston could play as early as this weekend.