Smart Says C’s are Rediscovering Rhythm as Practice Ramps Up
BOSTON – It’s been only one week since the Boston Celtics entered the bubble at the NBA Campus in Florida, but already the team appears to be making great strides in returning toward its pre-hiatus form.
Following their first practice Friday afternoon, the C’s admitted to being a little bit rusty, which was understandable considering they were coming off of a three-and-a-half-month layoff. However, by their fifth practice Wednesday afternoon, much progress had been made, according to Marcus Smart, who claimed during a conference call with the media, “We’re back.”
The veteran point guard elaborated, “Everybody’s getting into the rhythm, everybody’s catching their wind. And that’s the beauty of being high-caliber athletes; it only takes a few days, a week or two to get back into the shape of things. I know everybody from my team here at the Celtics, we’re back in a rhythm, we’re back on it and we’re ready to go.”
Smart’s backcourt mate Brad Wanamaker said it’s like night and day comparing where the team was five days ago to where it is now. He suggested that individuals may have been trying a bit too hard to prove themselves out of the gate, but added that coach Brad Stevens has helped them to get back on track during the more recent sessions.
“When we first got back, we were all just so anxious to get back to playing five-on-five basketball that we were overly hyped and we were turning the ball over and just fouling each other every other play,” Wanamaker described. “But as the days went on, like today – we had a really good practice today. Brad’s been mixing up teams, giving everybody a chance to go against each other, or playing different roles on teams. So, it’s been great. The competition is very high.”
Stevens agreed that there have been moments where the team has looked great, but also times when “we’ve looked like we need to practice for another 10 days.”
However, the collective competitiveness, which Wanamaker mentioned, should go a long way in expediting the whole process.
“Their attitudes are great,” Stevens lauded. “We’re really fortunate because we’ve got guys that practice hard and they get after it. And I think that’s led by some of our guys that get a lot of the limelight and the attention; they practice hard, and I think that really helps the team as a whole.”
One of those leaders is Smart, who is stressing to his teammates to play with a sense of urgency as they continue to ramp up activities. He noted how there is not much time – two weeks to be exact – until their first seeding game against Milwaukee, so they must be focused every time they hit the practice court.
“We’ve got to be ready and really get going,” Smart said. “We don’t have time to ease into things, and that’s kind of been our motto is that once we step on that floor, we’re coming to work and we’ve gotta get it going right off the rip. We don’t got time to lollygag, ease into it, and kind of go through the motions. But I know we’ve been taking it wholeheartedly and that we’re coming out and when we’re in between those lines, we’re playing.”
Having such an attitude is what has allowed Boston to make so much progress over the past week, and it’s what should enable them to continue to move forward as the seeding games near.