Marcus Smart Puts Celtics Playoff Opponents on Notice: ‘It Doesn’t Matter’

Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Getty Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

With only three games remaining in the regular season, the Boston Celtics have begun to look toward the playoffs.

Robert Williams will be a significant loss for Boston, but with news that he could potentially return to the rotation early in the second round, the immediate future doesn’t look too bleak. Of course, the Celtics’ chances of making it to the second round are contingent on a good performance against their eventual first-round match-up.

If the season was to end today, the Celtics would face the seventh seed, which could potentially be the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, or Charlotte Hornets. Which is a wide array of talent – making it difficult for Boston to begin early preparations.

According to Marcus Smart, the Celtics aren’t concerned about their ability to hold down the fort in Williams’ absence, and in fact, are rather bullish about their post-season chances, regardless of who their opponent turns out to be.

NBA Today | Marcus Smart tells ESPN that Jayson Tatum can lead Boston Celtics win playoff seriesNBA Today | Marcus Smart tells ESPN that Jayson Tatum can lead Boston Celtics win playoff series2022-04-04T19:51:50Z

“For us, we just want to go out there and play basketball. Whoever is in front of us, it doesn’t matter, we can’t look at it like that. Because at any given moment, anything can happen, it’s the playoffs.

So, we’ve just got to continue to keep our streak going, keep our focus, and keep the hot streak we’ve got going. Got to stay as healthy as we can. And whoever is put in front of us, we’ve just got to go out there and compete,” Smart told ESPN’S Malika Andrews during a recent episode of NBA Today.

Growth of Tatum and Brown Will Fuel Post-Season Run

Since January 1, both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have found a new gear, and are embarking on the best stretches of their careers. The sudden developmental jump the Celtics’ star wings have made means that the Celtics have to be taken seriously as potential championship contenders.

Tatum is currently operating at an MVP level, while Brown has shown his All-NBA credentials in recent weeks too. Furthermore, the wing pairing has finally figured out how to play together, or more importantly, off of each other. Tatum is fulfilling a point-forward role for the Celtics, helping initiate the offense and control the flow of the game, while Brown is operating in an off-ball role, tasked with utilizing his explosiveness and scoring ability – and it’s working.

During his time on NBA Today, Smart also explained the different areas in which Boston’s wing pairing has improved, and how he’s enjoyed watching their development over the years.

“Just their emphasis on their desire to get better. Each and every day, they talk about it, and they go out there on the court and are tying the things they’re talking about, trying to get better.

They’re working on bouncing out of the double team, finding guys out of the double team, finding their reads when they got a slight window to make room for themselves. It’s been amazing, it’s been fun watching those guys grow, and it’s been fun being a part of that growth for both of those guys,” Smart said.

Health Will Play Major Role

Last season, the Celtics entered the playoffs without Jaylen Brown, who suffered a wrist injury, and without Robert Williams, who missed 12 of the Celtics’ final 17 regular-season games and two playoff games with a turf toe injury. Health has been a prolonged storyline for this Celtics roster spanning back multiple seasons.

Now, with a fully healthy squad outside of Williams, the team has an opportunity to prove they’re capable of bringing a championship back to Boston. Sure, nobody is expecting the Celtics to win it all this year, but continued growth towards the end goal is a genuine barometer on which fans and media members will be judging the team.

However, the fact that we’re even considering Boston as a dark-horse contender this year speaks volumes about the job that Ime Udoka and his coaching staff have done. What was once an individualistic roster, is now one of the best teams in the league, with a dominant defense and aesthetically pleasing offense.

The NBA playoffs are due to start on April 16, and with three games remaining, the Celtics will be waiting until the final day of the regular season to learn who their opening-round opponent is going to be. Until then, we can expect the team to continue playing at an elite level and chasing the best seeding they can possibly get – regardless of what that means for potential opponents.

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