Long after the NBA’s greatest rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers capped off its lastest installment in thrilling fashion – 2010’s winner-take-all Game 7 of the NBA Finals – there’s still no love lost between today’s Lakers and Celtics.
He just needs to think about the last time he played against 2020 NBA Finals MVP LeBron James in a different Game 7. In 2018, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James went toe-to-toe against Smart and the Celtics in the final game of the Eastern Conference finals.
When asked to share a favorite LeBron memory, Marcus talked about a significant moment that happened between him and James, in that game.
Marcus Smart’s Favorite LeBron James Memory: ‘Game 7, Here When LeBron Took Us On’
“A couple of years ago, in Game 7, here, when LeBron (James) took us on and pretty much put the daggers in us, himself,” Smart said after Saturday morning shootaround. “I just remember him on me and late in the shot clock, I’m up in his grill and he takes a 30-footer fade away, shot clock running down, and he hits it. He just showed the type of player that he is, the kind of playmaker that he is. It doesn’t matter what moment in the game, he’s always going to make those big plays.
“We’re definitely expecting their best punch, we just have to go out there and give them ours.”
The Celtics defense has been one of its biggest concerns of late.
Smart On Celtics’ Defense Of Late: ‘Our Effort Just Really Isn’t There’
Smart, who took on personal responsibility for the team’s shortcomings on that end of the floor, says his teammates also need to hold themselves accountable in an effort to avoid switching to a zone defense, as we saw vs. the Spurs, against the Lakers.
“Just our attention to detail, you know? We let guys do what we talked about, prior to the game, not letting them do,” Smart said. “Getting into their bags and really getting to their spots, and getting to what they love to do. The effort, our effort just really isn’t there. Guys setting screens, me included, we’re a step slow. We’re confused and we got to fix it. There’s no way we shouldn’t be able to guard guys man-to-man. We had to go to a zone because we can’t guard. So, it definitely can be fixed but it’s going to take us to fix it.”
Besides, this is the Lakers. Fresh off back-to-back losses, Los Angeles will look to bounce back in a big way against the Celtics.
However, either way, Smart says whenever it’s Celtics vs. Lakers; it’s a vibe. And he doesn’t anticipate things to be any different Saturday night at TD Garden.
“Every time we play the Lakers, it don’t matter where you’re at, you feel that rivalry between two iconic teams in this league, and it’s for good reason,” Smart said. “What they’ve done; paved a way and set a standard for both organizations. So, when these two teams meet up, it doesn’t matter where or when — it could be a preseason game, it could be a scrimmage — you’re definitely going to feel that intensity of the rivalry of those two teams. We definitely expect their best shot tonight, we don’t expect anything less from those guys. That’s the way that they’ve held themselves. I don’t think anybody else expects anything less.
“We know we have to come out and be ready because they’re coming out swinging.”