It's a 28-game dash to the playoffs for the Boston Celtics that begins in Minnesota Friday night and Enes Kanter is focused on one key element as the C's return to the court for the first time since the week-long All-Star break.
"Please stay healthy," the Celtics big man told Chris Forsberg on the latest episode of The Enes Kanter Show podcast. "If we all stay healthy, we can beat every team on every floor."
When we last saw Kanter, he was limping off the floor late in the C's double-overtime victory over the Clippers. He's been bothered by a hip injury but he said he'll be good to go Friday.
Also on the mend from a hip issue is fellow big man Robert Williams. Though he won't play on Boston's upcoming four-game trip, Williams has had his practice restrictions lifted and Kanter liked what he saw Wednesday as the C's got back to work.
"Rob was amazing. He can change the game," Kanter told Forsberg."He hasn't played for like two months and he got a lob and dunked the ball on his first possession. This is special. He just needs to get into game shape."
Kanter also talked about his 1-on-1 battles in practice with Marcus Smart.
"It's always good because now the NBA is going small, right?" the 6-foot-10 Kanter said of matching up with the 6-foot-3 guard. "Marcus Smart is one of the best, if not THE best defender out there. When I go against him, I get better. To be able to go against a small guy and try to guard him, it makes him better and makes me better."
Forsberg captured a portion of their showdown on video:
Marcus Smart got the better of Enes Kanter early on in 1-on-1 post work ... pic.twitter.com/0eU5GlMehj— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) February 20, 2020
But Kanter got the last laugh on Smart ... pic.twitter.com/mjBkMyxyub— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) February 20, 2020
I always try to get under his skin," Kanter said of Smart, "but he's tough mentally."
This trip takes Kanter and the Celtics to Utah, where his NBA career began from 2011-2015. Will he get a warm welcome from Jazz fans?
"I wonder who's going to get more booed, me or [Celtics forward and ex-Jazz star] Gordon [Hayward]? Every time I touch the ball, I get booed there," Kanter said.
Because Hayward is a more recent departure, Kanter said he might be able to escape most of the fans' wrath.
"I feel good this time because I've got Gordon."
Check out the Enes Kanter Show each week on NBC Sports Boston Podcast network.
This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.