Now that All-Star Weekend is over, it’s time to focus our attention back on the Celtics. After having a chokehold on the number one seed in the East for a majority of the season, the team is now in a race with the Raptors and the Cavs for the top spot, and it feels like they might not win.
Before the All-Star Break they hit a huge rough patch, losing 4 of their last 5 games. Their defensive rating has been down significantly and the offense outside of Kyrie has been pretty inconsistent. Now granted they weren’t doing much better before his injury, Marcus Smart’s absence has been a huge disadvantage for the Celtics whether you like it or not. He might make some questionable decisions at times, but his value as a defender can’t go without recognition. You can throw that guy on basically anyone at any position and he’ll do a good job containing them. He’s a swiss army knife for the Celtics, and they have missed him BIG TIME.
Not having Smart (or Shane Larkin) has also put a ton of pressure on the shoulders of Kyrie & Rozier. Terry specifically had to fill in as the teams only point guard for a few games when Irving, Smart, and Larkin were all out with injuries. He played well, but not having those other guys around to back you up can’t be easy. Losing some of the main guards in your rotation is never a good thing, especially when it’s those two.
I’m not saying that Smart’s return will spark a fire under the Celtics that will guide them to a championship this season, but they need him back if they want to make any noise whatsoever. Without him, I wouldn’t be surprised if this team got bounced in the first round.
-Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)