Despite passing the “vibe check,” Marcus Smart still does not believe that the Boston Celtics are performing at their full potential, and their current three-game losing streak is a direct indicator of this.
In a recent sit-down with Abby Chin on NBC Sports Boston, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year opened up about the mindset of the C’s during their recent skid, and stated it’s understood that “we haven’t been playing to our standards.”
When asked what the “points of emphasis” are to climb out of their current rut, Smart laid out a simple blueprint that he believes the Celtics must follow.
“Just play harder. You know, we got to play harder,” Smart said. “Teams are coming in here and out toughing us, you know, and that’s one thing we try to pride ourselves on. Especially early on in the season was, you know, being the tougher team, and right now we’re not and teams are coming in and out-toughing us. So, I feel fixing that will fix a lot of things. Having that tough mentality coming back in and, you know, throwing the first punch, and if you do get hit, hit back and get up and everything else will start kind of slowly coming back together.”
Since returning to the lineup following an 11-game absence due to a sprained right ankle, the Boston Celtics have gone a pedestrian 4-4 and have subsequently been leapfrogged by the Milwaukee Bucks atop the Eastern Conference standings, as they now reside in the second seed with an overall record of 45-21.
In Marcus Smart’s eyes, a way to get back to their pre-injury efficiency where they went 35-12 is to tap back into their innate toughness. Their next chance to test out this hypothesis will come Wednesday night, as they play host to the visiting Portland Trail Blazers.
Celtics Star Sounds Off on Losing Streak
It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are dissatisfied with their level of production over these last few weeks and, directly following their latest defeat against the Cleveland Cavaliers back on March 6, All-Star wing Jaylen Brown let out his frustrations and emphasized that the team as a whole needs to figure out how they can start rattling off wins as they did earlier in the year.
“In the midst of the storm, I think that was a valiant effort. But there’s no moral victories in this s***. Like, we gotta win games, period,” Brown said during a post-game media session. “And I gotta be better at spots in overtime and through the game, I feel like I rushed some shots that I wish I could have back. But, overall, we just have to have a fighter’s mentality, and we gotta play to win.”
Since returning from the All-Star break, the Celtics have come away with two consecutive victories just once and find themselves ranked 24 in offensive rating (109.0) and 22 in net rating (-5.0) while allowing their opponents to register the seventh-highest plus-minus rating (5.4) over their last eight games.
Celtics Forward Shows Progress in Latest Video
Though times may be tough for the Celtics, Wednesday provided some positive updates on the continued rehabilitation of offseason acquisition Danilo Gallinari, as he posted a video to his personal Twitter page of him cashing in on 3-pointers inside the team’s practice facility back in Boston.
Since tearing his ACL back in late August while playing for Team Italy, the 34-year-old has periodically provided glimpses into his rehabilitation journey on social, with Wednesday’s post being the first where he’s been shown consistently knocking down jumpers at the team’s training facility.
Since signing his two-year, $13.3 million deal with the Celtics this past offseason, Gallinari has yet to see a lick of in-game action in 2022-23 as a result of his injury though, based on his latest video, it appears he’s inching closer and closer to making his debut with the ball club.