Marcus Smart said opponents no longer fear the Celtics and Boston’s inability to impose their will on opposing players, particularly on the defensive end, is part of the reason the team finds itself with a disappointing 10-10 record at the quarter pole of the season.
On the heels of a 113-104 loss on Saturday night in his hometown of Dallas, an exasperated Smart said he had few answers to explain Boston’s inconsistencies but suggested the Celtics need to get their swagger back by playing with the sort of effort that discouraged opponents.
“Lack of effort. Lack of fear. Like, we don’t impose our fear and will on other teams,” Smart told reporters when asked about Boston's current inconsistencies. "Last year, teams when they came in and played the Celtics, they knew they were in for a fight. This year, teams can’t wait to play us. And that’s a problem.
“When guys aren't scared of you no more, there’s nothing you can do about that. We gotta change it. We gotta come out and be the first one to hit guys in the mouth. We gotta get that swagger back.”
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Smart has routinely been one of the more vocal players amid Boston’s struggles. After the Celtics fell in Dallas, Smart again tried to put into words what is ailing the team.
“It’s deja vu all over again,” said Smart. “Like, we keep saying and doing the same thing after every game. It's getting real annoying. I don’t even know what to say to you guys at this point.”
Asked about Boston’s first-quarter struggles this season, Smart said he literally had no answer, then added, “I’m stumped right now.”
The Celtics have routinely been gouged by opposing guards who have feasted on them in high pick-and-rolls. It was one thing when it top scoring talent like Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, Kemba Walker, or Kawhi Leonard.
But lately it’s been the likes of Trey Burke and Jose Juan Barea.
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So what’s different from last year that Boston can’t impose its will on teams this season?
“I don’t know. It’s a problem. If I knew, we wouldn’t be having this situation,” said Smart. “Once we figure that out, things will start changing. But until then, we're gonna continue to get our ass-whupped.”
Smart sounded off later in the interview when asked about opposing teams showboating against the Celtics. Said Smart: “If guys feel comfortable enough to [showboat], that’s a problem.”
But as for the more pressing issue, Smart implored the Celtics to stick together and figure things out.
“We’re a tight-knit group,” said Smart. “We care for each and everyone in that locker room. So we’re going to stick together."
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