The Celtics undoubtedly made a statement Monday night at Barclays Center, but maybe not the one folks in Boston are hooting and hollering.
The C’s became the first team in the NBA to punch their ticket to the conference semifinals when they held off the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the teams’ first-round series. Boston entered the playoffs with fairly high expectations, and the sweep of Kevin Durant and company further validated Ime Udoka’s team as a legitimate Finals contender.
But just because Boston was the first team to earn a ticket to Round 2 doesn’t necessarily mean the C’s are the best group in the postseason field. Marcus Smart made as much clear after Monday’s game.
“I definitely see the other series, and for me, I think we’re not the best team,” Smart told reporters, per a clip shared by NBC Sports Boston. “We still have some ways to go. We still have work. We don’t really get too high on the highs, nor too low on the lows. When I watch the game films, I’m watching it for — we’re not the best team. We have to play like that. We have to have that mentality that we’re not the best team because once you get that mentality — ‘we’re the best team’ — you start to get complacent and things start to kick in, bad habits, and we don’t want that.”
The Celtics might not be the best team right now, but as Jayson Tatum will tell you, no other club is going to play harder than Boston on a nightly basis. That unwavering effort, coupled with the Celtics’ commitment to improving, could make the C’s the undisputed team to beat in short order.