LOS ANGELES — After beating the Portland Trail Blazers 145-117 on the road and the second night of a back-to-back, Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart believes the Celtics are on the verge of making a run towards the top of the Eastern Conference.
Winners of three of their last four games, the Celtics’ offensive explosion — which outscored its opponent 81-59 in the second half of their win over the Trail Blazers — couldn’t have come at a better time.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Celtics’ Marcus Smart: ‘We’re Going to go On a run’
The Celtics (13-11) are currently under four wins behind first place in the Eastern Conference. After middling around a .500 record, the Celtics hope to improve their 1-1 start to their road trip. However, does the Celtics’ current standing give Smart and the Celtics extra motivation to compete against the Los Angeles Lakers?
“Of course,” Smart replied Monday after practice. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be with the results; record-wise but to know the fact that we’re only three games, this short, out of first place the way we’ve been playing; that’s still encouraging because at any given moment we’re going to go on a run, and then things are going to change for us. We just have to continue to play the game the right way like we been playing and just continue to trust one another.”
Taking on the Blazers without two members of their starting lineup — Jaylen Brown, Al Horford — the Celtics not only won by a 28-point margin, but they also scored a season-high 145 points in regulation.
“It’s very satisfying,” Smart explained. “We have to put points on the board. It will help you win games, especially with our defense; the way it is. The way it’s coming along, to have our offense catch up with that is something that’s a sigh of relief and it’s a good feeling for us, for all of us. We’re happy. We’re not content with it. Obviously, we know we still have work to do but we’re on the right track.”
Celtics’ Slow Starts, Finding Consistency
Six Celtics players scored in double figures, including All-Star Jayson Tatum and Dennis Schroder, who tallied a game-high 31 points while Smart chipped 17 points and four assists.
“For us on the offensive end, it’s just staying consistent,” Smart said. “We have games where we do very well and we have other games where we come out sloppy in the first quarter or first half and then we try to catch ourselves up and we’re trying to wake up. So, for us, it’s just staying consistent all over from the tip of the ball to the last buzzer of the game. I think that’s one area, for us, that we would like to improve and something we definitely need to improve on.”
Smart also understands that finding consistency on offense starts with the team’s starting point guard.
“For me, especially, being a point guard, it’s turnovers,” Smart added. “These last couple of games my turnovers have been a little high for what I would expect for this team. So, really, those two things — staying consistent from the start and limiting our turnovers.”