Celtics

Blakely: Smart should be captain of the Celtics

Blakely: Smart should be captain of the Celtics

BOSTON -- It’s not that hard to find a player or two on the Celtics’ roster that’s universally viewed as being better than Marcus Smart. 

But when it comes to leadership, it's not even close. 

Smart is indeed the smart choice when it comes to looking for leadership on this Celtics team. 

And that leadership needs to be more than just talked about and embraced by his teammates. 

It needs to become official; and by official, I mean Smart being named a team captain. 

Arguably the most storied franchise in NBA history, the Celtics have not had a team captain since Rajon Rondo in 2014 - the longest stretch without a captain in franchise history.  

Only 18 players in franchise history have been bestowed with the title.

There are few if any greater individual honors around these parts than to be named a team captain of the Celtics.

And the irony of that is the reason Smart deserves such an amazing individual honor is because of what he means to the team. 

Coach Brad Stevens has opted to go with a captain-less team, rationalizing it as wanting all the players to feel as though they have a voice in the direction of the team. 

While the premise is a good one and does make sense, naming a captain seems a logical next step for a franchise coming off a season when among the most talked-about issues was the team’s lack of leadership. 

And now it’s a lot easier to go with Smart as the captain with both Al Horford and Kyrie Irving off to Philly and Brooklyn.

Throw in the fact that the Smart, 25, is the longest-tenured Celtic and will be going into the second year of the four-year, $52 million deal, and all signs point towards Smart being named a captain sooner rather than later. 

Captain or not, Smart will find a way to put his imprint on games defensively while also making timely shots and setting up teammates with a much-improved game as a playmaker. 

But what will set Smart apart from his teammates this season is what happens inside the locker room or off the floor when the lights, cameras and action of the NBA are nowhere to be found. 

Smart will be the first to tell you he is a flawed player and will make mistakes at both ends of the floor this season. 

Still, what often separates Smart from others, are the lessons learned from those miscues and how he uses them to make himself and those around him, better players. 

That’s leadership, the kind that you expect from your captain, which is a title Marcus Smart deserves to call his own this season. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics vs. Wizards live stream: Watch 2020 NBA seeding game online

Celtics vs. Wizards live stream: Watch 2020 NBA seeding game online

The Boston Celtics will conclude their NBA seeding game schedule Thursday with an afternoon matchup against the Washington Wizards.

The C's have won four consecutive games and five of their second seeding contests overall, and the team's performance in these matchups has been pretty encouraging. The team's best players, including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Kemba Walker all have played well. Several of the team's younger players also have shown they deserve a look come playoff time, including second-year center Robert Williams.

Williams could get extended playing time versus the Wizards. He scored 10 points in just 14 minutes during Tuesday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, and the 2018 first-round pick is averaging 13.5 points in the four seeding games he's played in. 

There are no playoff implications in Boston's last seeding game. The C's already locked up the No. 3 seed and will play the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1. That said, this game against the Wizards is an important one for the C's to ensure they enter the playoffs firing on all cylinders.

NBC Sports Boston has you covered with complete coverage of Celtics vs. Wizards, starting at 11 a.m. ET with "Celtics Pregame Live". Tip-off is scheduled for noon on NBC Sports Boston, with complete postgame analysis after the final buzzer on "Celtics Postgame Live."

HOW TO WATCH

ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 11 a.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Brian Scalabrine, Kendrick Perkins, Abby Chin, Chris Forsberg and A. Sherrod Blakely. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Celtics Halftime Live. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

DURING THE GAME, FOLLOW US 

@NBCSBOSTON

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

ON TWITTER

2020 NBA Playoffs: Celtics will play rival 76ers in first round

2020 NBA Playoffs: Celtics will play rival 76ers in first round

A new chapter in one of basketball's best rivalries will be written in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

The Boston Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1. It will be the first playoff series between these teams since Boston beat Philly in a five-game Eastern Conference semifinals in 2018.

The matchup became official Wednesday night when the Indiana Pacers beat the Houston Rockets, which locked the Sixers into the No. 6 seed. The Celtics secured the No. 3 seed earlier this week. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which begins Thursday at 11 a.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at noon. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Boston will play the Washington Wizards on Thursday afternoon in its final seeding game. Philly has two more seeding games remaining -- Wednesday night versus the Toronto Raptors and Friday night against the Rockets.

The Sixers might not be at full strength against the Celtics in Round 1. All-Star point guard Ben Simmons recently left the NBA bubble to have surgery on his knee, and he's reportedly expected to miss the rest of the season. Philadelphia's All-Star center, Joel Embiid, injured his left ankle against the Portland Trail Blazers last Sunday and didn't play Tuesday, but he reportedly will return to the lineup Wednesday night.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Here are the updated seeds for the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Miami Heat and Pacers still haven't locked in their exact seeds, but they will be the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup in Round 1. Miami needs one win in its final two seeding games to clinch the No. 4 seed.

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Boston Celtics
4. Miami Heat
5. Indiana Pacers
6. Philadelphia 76ers
7. Brooklyn Nets
8. Orlando Magic