Celtics

Boston-bleeding Marcus Smart ready for whatever's next for Celtics

Boston-bleeding Marcus Smart ready for whatever's next for Celtics

BOSTON — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart said he won’t begrudge Kyrie Irving and Al Horford if they elect to depart this summer but he was staunch in suggesting that Boston remains a destination for championship-seeking players.

Smart, decked out in a Celtics-green cobra shirt and a black bandana, met with reporters Tuesday during a break in his annual youth camp on the campus of Brandeis University and went to bat for the city when asked about the notion that players might not want to come here.

"I think it kind of speaks for itself. We’ve got the Patriots, we’ve got the Bruins, we’ve got the Red Sox, we’ve got the Celtics. You name me another city that’s got four teams in different categories like that that’s all known for winning championships,” said Smart. "It gets no better than that. 

"I don’t know who is saying that, or why they’re saying it, who knows? But, for me, being here and experiencing it for myself, Boston is definitely a place you want to be, especially if you’re trying to compete for a championship.”

Smart said he’s talked with Irving since the end of the season but steered clear of basketball topics. He admitted Irving’s potential departure, and that of Horford, did catch him by surprise a bit, though he’s become numb to change during his time in the NBA. Smart is focused on what he can do to get Boston back on track after a maddening year.

"I see my role as bigger than ever now,” said Smart, who started alongside Irving much of last season but could slide into the first-unit point guard role depending on how Boston’s offseason plays out. "Just because, once again, being that longest-tenured Celtic, going into my sixth season and really understanding [coach] Brad [Stevens] and this organization, and the system that he likes to run, and just, that’s who I am. 

"And I’ve got to be that times 10 now, because we are going through some things. We did have a bad year. We’ve just got to keep everybody on the same track.”

Smart said he’s bullish on Boston’s outlook moving forward.

"I'm excited. We're excited. As competitors, you have a season like we did last year and it leaves a funny taste in your mouth,” said Smart. "We use that as our motivation and to keep going. We're very excited. Whatever team or whatever people or whoever is on the board or whoever is on this roster with us, we're excited to have them to go out there and fight.”

Smart praised Boston’s quartet of recent draftees, which included a pair of backup point guards in Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters. He said he’s unlikely to meddle in free agency, letting Danny Ainge and his staff handle that, but offered to make a pitch if needed.

Reflecting on last season, Smart hinted that the tensions reported in Boston’s locker room might not have been as catastrophic as suggested. Right after the season, Smart went to bat for Irving when it was suggested he caused much of Boston's issues this season.

"Even in the regular season, it wasn't a disconnect,” said Smart. "It was just a lot of people kind of got in and -- it was like a telephone game. You tell one person this and by the time it gets back to you, the whole narrative had changed. That's kind of how it goes. Like I said, you can only control what you can control. You focus on what you can focus on. As a player, you focus on getting into the gym, getting yourself better and you let the front office handle the front office stuff and you do what it is you need to do for the team."

Still, Smart sounds eager to wipe the slate clean and start a new season.

"Hey, the thing is, the Raptors just won the championship, right? But they’ve got to start back over from the beginning just like we do,” said Smart. "So we all start back over at the starting line, we all start at zero, and we all get a chance to do it. So everybody’s starting over, regardless if they have the same team or not, they’ve all got to start from the beginning. 

"That’s how we take it. We take it as we come in, and we have an opportunity to do something special, and we get another chance to do it.”

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NBA picks: Celtics vs. Suns betting predictions, plays against the spread

NBA picks: Celtics vs. Suns betting predictions, plays against the spread

The Boston Celtics aren't invincible, after all.

The Celtics had their nine-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Sacramento against the Kings when Marcus Smart's floater at the buzzer rimmed out.

Boston's 100-99 defeat was the team's second consecutive loss against the spread, as the C's only beat the Golden State Warriors by five on Friday night.

Will that trend continue on stop No. 3 of the Celtics' west coast road trip? The C's are road underdogs for just the fourth time this season for Monday's game against the upstart Phoenix Suns, who are 7-4 on the young season.

It's an intriguing scenario, so we'll dive right in with our moneyline, point spread and point total picks for Celtics-Suns, then give you our two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m. ET

Moneyline: The Celtics' offense has looked pedestrian without Gordon Hayward on the start of this road trip. The Suns are giving up points in bunches, though, and this has the feel of a bounce-back game for a Boston club that got humbled in Sacramento. Put your faith in the Celtics (+145) to win outright. 

Point Spread: The Suns are much-improved, but they're not as good as their 7-4 record. The Celtics are 5-2 on the road and nearly beat the Kings despite a quiet night from Kemba Walker. Expect Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to power the Celtics (+3.5) to a win as road underdogs.

Point Total: Phoenix has allowed 112 points or more in four consecutive games. That's a good sign for a C's team that has mustered just 199 points over its last two contests. The OVER has hit in six of these teams' last 10 meetings, so I'll roll with the C's and Suns surpassing 226.5 points in a shootout.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 16-10-1

NBA Locks of the Night

Cleveland Cavaliers (+3) at New York Knicks: The point spread is the only reason why you should watch this matchup of Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers. The Cavs are 7-3 against the spread this season and have shown some fight despite their poor record. The Knicks continue to be hopeless.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Clippers (-10): Paul George will have the sole objective of getting buckets in his first game against his former team. The Clippers also are 7-1 against the spread at home, and Kawhi Leonard could return after sitting out the last two games. Take the home team to the bank.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 10-7-1

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

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AP photo

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

The Boston Celtics had their 10-game win streak snapped on Sunday as they fell to the Sacramento Kings, 100-99.

It came down to the final buzzer as Marcus Smart's last-second floater hung on the rim, but failed to fall into the basket.

Here are three instant overreactions from the loss, which brings the C's to 10-2 on the season:

1. The C's are starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics have looked out of sync offensively in their last couple of games. Friday night's close call vs. the lowly Golden State Warriors left plenty to be desired, and their struggles in Sunday's loss didn't do much to inspire confidence either as they turned the ball over 14 times.

If we see one or two more lackluster performances like this on the West Coast road trip, it may be time to start counting down the days until Hayward's return. But for now, I'm willing to give the C's talented offensive unit the benefit of the doubt.

2. Jaylen Brown and Buddy Hield both are showing they're worth every penny.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Once again, he was one of Boston's standout performers on the offensive side and is backing up his statement about his game improving.

As for Hield, he continues to reward the Kings for signing him to a four-year, $86 million contract extension last month. The Celtics simply had no answer for the Indiana product, who dropped 35 points while going 7-for-12 in 3-pointers. Hield also drilled a key 3 late in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento come out on top.

3. Semi Ojeleye is the new Steph Curry.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

OK, fine, it may be a SLIGHT overreaction. Still, Ojeleye surprised everyone by going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and tallying 11 points off the bench. He was one of the bright spots in the Celtics' disappointing loss.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.