The Boston Celtics started slow last year, but by the end of the season, they were in the NBA Finals. While they eventually lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games, it was still an impressive feat considering where they were at the beginning of the season.
And so far this summer, Brad Stevens has done a great job of building up the team even more. He signed Danilo Gallinari to a two-year deal (although he just recently tore his ACL) and made a giant trade for combo guard Malcolm Brogdon, giving the team added depth.
During a recent interview with Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart sounded off on the team’s newest additions. He said that having Gallinari and Brogdon would give them a huge boost in terms of depth and that they don’t want to get off to a slow start again.
“We put ourselves in that situation early on, having to fight back through injuries and stuff,” Smart said. “Being able to have that depth of guys who are experienced and understand the game such as Gallo and Brogdon definitely will help us with that.”
Boston didn’t start to turn their season around until the end of January last year, and it took a monumental effort at the end of the year to help them climb into the playoff picture. Obviously, they went above and beyond, but starting slow made things more difficult than they had to be.
Smart said that having more depth should help them on their quest to improve next year.
Celtics’ Depth Was Major Issue
Boston’s starting lineup was one of the best in the league last year. The only issue was that there weren’t many capable players behind them. Outside of Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, and half a season of Derrick White, they didn’t have much help.
Smart noted that this was a major issue, as it left him, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the starting unit to do things on their own.
“I think depth was one of the big things that hurt us,” Smart said. “You had me, Jayson, Jaylen, and our starters playing, clawing (up the standings) and we did it to ourselves.”
With Brogdon in the mix, Boston will have an extra player to fall back on. Gallinari’s injury set them back a step, but with the training camp guys they’re bringing in, plus Sam Hauser’s internal improvement, they should have more help coming off the bench.
But just because the season is a few months away doesn’t mean Smart has forgotten about Boston’s past failures.
Smart Still Loses Sleep Over Finals Loss
The Celtics had a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals last year and were a few short minutes away from going up 3-1. However, they blew it. The Warriors took Game 4 and won every game after that in the series. Smart said that he still loses sleep over the loss.
“I catch myself sleeping sometimes, and then I wake up and the light’s hitting,” Smart told The Athletic. “Then there’s some days that I can’t sleep and I’m on YouTube watching everything [from the NBA Finals]. My girlfriend’s like, ‘Get off, it’s over, let it go.’ I can’t. That’s the beauty of us competitors.”
With how torn up Smart is over the loss, he seems locked and loaded to compete for a championship again next year.