It takes a full-team effort to make a deep NBA playoff run, but the Celtics likely will be leaning on a few players, in particular, over the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Jayson Tatum, of course, is critical to Boston’s success, as the third-year pro this season has established himself as the team’s go-to scorer. Having Kemba Walker healthy and playing at a high level also would go a long way in helping the C’s make a true run at the Eastern Conference crown.
The importance of Marcus Smart also cannot be overlooked, a sentiment head coach Brad Stevens expressed Sunday prior to the Celtics’ scrimmage win over the Phoenix Suns.
Brad Stevens said he told Smart that he has a chance to be their vocal leader in the quiet, fanless Orlando gyms.
“He’s going to be as important right from the get-go of the game as anybody on our team.”
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) July 26, 2020
There’s no denying Smart is the heart and soul of the C’s. The 26-year-old is capable of changing the momentum of games with his high energy and tenacious style of play. He’s also the longest-tenured Celtic on the roster, and he’s seemed to have fully embraced the role of a veteran leader on this fairly young and inexperienced Boston team.
Smart long has viewed himself as a “game changer,” and he’ll need to live up to that billing if the Celtics want to make some real noise inside the Orlando bubble.