The Boston Celtics may be considered serious title contenders by a vast majority of fans and experts, but their recent level of play has drawn quite a bit of criticism, even from the players themselves.
The Athletic’s Jay King shared Marcus Smart’s own analysis of his play this season in a March 15 tweet, as the point guard specifically thrashed his efforts on the defensive end where, generally, he has proven to shine.
In one word, the 29-year-old seemed to sum up his play on the less glamorous side of the ball, claiming it to be “mediocre.” He would also note that a nagging ankle ailment has “impacted his mobility” this year, which, in turn, could very well be a factor in his self-proclaimed poor production.
The advanced stats also seem to back up the reigning Defensive Player of the Year’s choice comments, as he finds himself sporting the second-lowest defensive rating (112) and defensive box plus-minus (0.6) of his career this season.
On top of this, since returning from a right ankle injury–the ailment he noted that is impacting his mobility–, Smart holds a putrid defensive rating of 118.6, the worst mark of any player on the team who has averaged 10 or more minutes per game during this stretch.
The veteran understands that his play of late has been a major disappointment. In turn, he has aided in the team’s pedestrian 6-5 record since his return to the floor.
While the hope is that, with time, he can get back to full speed just in time for the playoffs, as of this moment his recent play has some questioning whether or not to be worried about their team’s polarizing defensive anchor.
Celtics Coach Sounds Off on Recent Slump
Marcus Smart may be a factor in the team’s recent slump, but the Celtics as a whole have simply underwhelmed since their return from the All-Star break.
Following Boston’s latest loss to the lottery-bound Houston Rockets, head coach Joe Mazzulla discussed his thoughts on Boston’s underwhelming play as of late, going as far as to suggest that things are a bit “concerning.”
“Those are concerning, the margins,” Mazzulla said, “The free throws, the rebounding, the turnovers, the second chances. Regardless of who you play, that’s playoff basketball at its finest. The ability to win those situations. So, it’s concerning that we’re inconsistent in that, and we have to be committed to those, regardless. Regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of the situation, regardless of how many games are left, it doesn’t matter. You have to be committed to those.”
Since returning from All-Star weekend, the Celtics have gone .500 with a record of 5-5 and have been on the losing end of four of their last seven outings.
Celtics Forward Gives Optimistic Update
Just days after releasing a video of him knocking down 3-pointers at the Celtics’ practice facility back in Boston, Danilo Gallinari posted an uplifting message on social media that seems to suggest he could return to on-court action a bit sooner than initially expected.
“On this path every day is a victory, the body improves, the leg improves and you feel better and better. The small daily challenges with myself give me the motivation to improve. I do tests every week and each positive result gives the team which supports me, the green light to organize the following weeks. There is still a long way to go but the basketball court is getting closer and closer…,” Gallinari wrote.
Since signing with the Boston Celtics this past offseason, Gallinari has yet to suit up for the club due to a torn ACL sustained over the summer while playing for Team Italy in EuroBasket.
However, with his recent activity on social media, it appears there’s growing optimism that the veteran could make his way back to the team’s active roster for what is hoped to be a 2023 championship push.