Smart still has nightmares about losing in NBA Finals to Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Editor's note: This story originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston.
The 2022 NBA Finals still haunt the Boston Celtics, and it will continue to be that way until they finally bring home Banner 18.
Marcus Smart will have the image of the Golden State Warriors hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy on his mind throughout the 2022-23 campaign. In an exclusive 1-on-1 with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg, the veteran C's guard opened up about the pain of coming up just short of a title. Will he ever stop thinking about it?
"Never," Smart answered. "I don't think I'll move past it. I've understood it, you know what I'm saying? Accepted it. I really have no choice. Those types of moments will never be forgotten. I'm still thinking about it today. I still have nightmares."
Despite falling to the Warriors in six games, the Celtics' 2021-22 season was one to remember. They overcame a rough first half and snagged the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 51-31 record. They swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round and followed that up with tough series wins against the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.
Their performance put the NBA on notice, but Smart isn't celebrating moral victories.
"It sucked having to sit there every day hearing people say, "Good job. You did good even though you didn't win,'" Smart said. "It's like, man, don't say we did a good job. Tell us like, 'Man, ya'll lost that. They got you.' But to sit there and say, 'Man, you did great. Ya'll had a great season.' Don't patronize me."
Boston enters the new season as a favorite to win the 2023 NBA championship. However, they'll need to overcome a fair amount of adversity to live up to those lofty expectations. Offseason addition Danilo Gallinari is expected to miss the season after tearing his ACL, big man Robert Williams will miss time to begin the year after undergoing knee surgery, plus head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the season and replaced by assistant Joe Mazzulla.
Even with those obstacles, there's enough talent on the roster for the C's to make another deep postseason run next summer. They return their core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Smart and added guard Malcolm Brogdon to the mix during the offseason.
"The great thing about it is I get another opportunity to back and try it again," Smart said. "We have the same team that we went to war with and went through all the trials and tribulations with. And then we added awesome additions. That's what gets me up to go and say, 'I'm ready for this.'
The Celtics will begin their quest for Banner 18 when they open the NBA regular season on Oct. 18 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.