Marcus Smart is encouraged by the current Boston Celtics team. Admittedly, that’s probably putting it lightly.
Smart told MassLive’s Tom Westerholm this group feels different than any other he’s played with — including the 2017-18 team that went to Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals, the 2016-17 team that lost in the Conference finals and the 2018-19 team that fell in the semifinals in five games.
?(Other teams were) potential contenders, but not as much of a contender as this team is,” Smart said, per Westerholm. ?I?ve had some (teams) where we thought, ?Maybe we can go.? That run that we had with Isaiah Thomas, we thought we were a pretty good team, even the two years ago team where we made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but this year is just a different feeling.
“We really got that sense of ?We really, really, really, really have a chance this year,? and it?s very evident to us,” Smart continued. “I think it?s starting to be evident to people around the league, and it?s evident to fans around the league.?
The Celtics certainly have shown glimpses of how good they can be, especially when healthy. Their most recent victory, a double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the final game before the NBA All-Star break, perhaps best depicted it. But then again, they’ve had other impressionable wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and a 1-1 split with the Milwaukee Bucks.
It’s shown they can really make a push this postseason. And the longest-tenured Celtic knows it.
?For us, it?s understood,? Smart said. ?No need to be said. We always felt that we were contenders, no matter what anybody says… It?s no surprise for us that people are talking about us being contenders. We?ve just got to go out there and continue to stay focused and focus one another and keep holding each other accountable.?
The Celtics will have the opportunity to do that as they begin a four-game road trip in Minnesota on Friday, but will be without Kemba Walker.