Celtics goalie Marcus Smart said following the team’s loss to the visiting Sacramento Kings on Friday night – Boston’s fourth loss in five games to open the second half of the regular season – the Celtics held a team meeting to try to correct. themselves and reverse what has been a disappointing campaign before it is too late.
“We just sat in the locker room and really reflected on each other,” Smart said after the Celtics responded with a 112-96 victory over the Orlando Magic at TD Garden in Boston. Sunday. “We asked ourselves, like I said, ‘How do we want to end the season? How do we want to be remembered this season? Everyone agreed, it was a bad feeling and a horrible feeling that we feel and don’t want to feel like this.
“We don’t want to look back on this season and be like,” Damn, we could have done that. We still have time. It’s not a lot, the margin is tightening, but we still have time to fix it, and that’s what we’re trying to do. ”
After lackluster losses to the Cavaliers and the Cleveland Kings in its previous two games, Boston looked a lot more like the team they are supposed to be on Sunday, controlling the game throughout the second period. Boston shot 23 for 54 with 3 points – including Jaylen Brown 10 for 18 behind the arc en route to a record 34 points – while keeping the Magic at 38% overall.
Boston’s topsy-turvy season left them tied with the New York Knicks for sixth in the tight Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics are just one game behind the Atlanta Hawks in fourth and are 3.5 games ahead of the Toronto Raptors in 11th – showing how much can change for better or for worse in a few games, depending on how a team is. playing.
With the Celtics now having their starting five healthy and playing together for an extended period for the first time this season, they are hoping the time is right to start figuring things out after hovering around 0.500. all season long – well below their level in recent years, having made the Eastern Conference Finals three times in the past four years.
“We focused on what we want this season to be for us, what we want to leave behind this season,” said Smart. “We have enough time to turn the tide, and it’s all on us. We have sat down and understand that we have not played by the standards we expected and that others expect of us. We are a young team and we are learning. The most important and most important thing about growing up is understanding and accepting the faults that you are wrong about – yourself, individually and as a team.
“The discussions we had, we did. We just tried to sit down and tried to understand and listen to each other to help us – not ourselves, but the team, individually and everyone. Try to get everyone in the right. position to be successful, and we came out and it showed tonight, and that’s what we have to keep going. ”
Boston will have the chance to see if there is a postponement Monday in Memphis, where the Celtics will begin a four-game trip that includes games in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Wednesday and Friday.
It would help their cause if the Celtics could keep shooting like they did on Sunday – including Brown, in particular, who finished short of Smart 11’s franchise record in a single game.
More than the shots he hit, however, Brown said it was just important for the Celtics to get the bad taste of the last few games out of their mouths before hitting the road again and trying to keep the momentum going.
“It’s a huge stepping stone for us,” Brown said. “We were a little funk. Coming here – early in the game, a little different from our routine – to come in and get a nice, comfortable victory is just good for our spirit. We know we’ve underperformed, and we’ve kind of taken extra pressure from everyone, all outside forces.
“So I just told our guys to focus on us, man. Forget what the media is saying, forget what the fans are saying and come play some good basketball, and see where the chips fall, and hopefully we can do that more – a lot more – for the rest of the season.