Smart laments Celtics' lack of fight: 'Teams can't wait to play us'
Marcus Smart gave a blunt assessment of the Boston Celtics' ongoing struggles Saturday night. After they suffered a 113-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, the hard-nosed 24-year-old pointed to the team's softened disposition and inability to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents.
“Lack of effort. Lack of fear. Like, we don’t impose our fear and will on other teams,” Smart said, according to NBC Sports' Chris Forsberg. "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.”
Last season, in the wake of a season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward five minutes into his tenure with the Celtics and an ailment that cut Kyrie Irving's year short ahead of the playoffs, Boston still managed to advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, largely by embracing their status as scrappy underdogs.
Memories of the Celtics' youth-led Cinderella run last spring have surely faded, as they've have won just four games in their past 12 outings, and continue to search for an answer to their game-to-game inconsistencies.