It’s been a trying season for Marcus Smart.
On top of the Celtics’ lingering struggles as a team, Smart has dealt with his own adversity. The veteran guard missed 18 games spanning over February into early March due to a calf strain. Smart hasn’t consistently looked like his usual self since returning from injury, which has led some to wonder how effective he can be down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs.
These skeptics haven’t gone unnoticed by Smart, who’s confident that he’s on an upward trajectory.
“I’m just getting started to getting back to where I was and letting people know not to forget who I am on that defensive end and what I do,” Smart said Tuesday after the Celtics’ win over the Portland Trail Blazers, as seen on NBC Sports Boston. “Two-time defensive first team. So, I’ve heard it. I heard the talks about me not being able to — the injury probably affecting me, I lost a step, all kinds of things. It is what it is. I know what I can do, my teammates know what I can do, the league knows what I can do. That’s just extra motivation for me to go out there and prove it.”
Smart isn’t the only Celtic playing with a chip on his shoulder. Jayson Tatum has looked motivated as ever over the course of Boston’s win streak, which might stem from the criticism he recently received from Kendrick Perkins.
Tatum, Smart and the Celtics will try to push their win streak to five Thursday night when they battle the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.