The Boston Celtics had a lot more bark than bite last season. And after losing Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes this offseason, few expect them to contend in a competitive Eastern Conference.
And that's just the way Marcus Smart likes it.
In an interview Monday morning on SiriusXM NBA Radio following Team USA's exhibition win over Canada, Smart said he's perfectly fine with the Celtics entering the 2019-20 season as underdogs.
As only Smart can, he used an awesome metaphor to capture his team's mindset, via NBA writer Keith Smith:
It's good for us. Our backs are against the wall now. When you corner a wounded coyote, you better be ready for it fight with everything it's got. That's us this year. We're fighting like wounded coyotes with everything we have.
A coyote would be a fitting spirit animal for Smart, the winner of the NBA's 2019 Heart and Hustle Award who has become the Celtics' scrappy leader as their longest-tenured player.
With so much roster turnover this offseason -- Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter and a large rookie class are among the new faces -- the 25-year-old Smart is embracing his leadership role for the new-look C's while honing that skillset as a co-captain for Team USA.
"Being seen as a leader here (with Team USA) is big," Smart added, via Smith. "I think I've been a leader for a while, but this just keep growing my skills as a leader and gives me more confidence. It's good for me."
If Smart has any say, expect the Celtics to regain the edge that helped them overachieve prior to last season's disappointing campaign.
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