Marcus Smart, Celtics embracing underdog role vs. Nets

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Smart, Celtics embracing underdog role vs. Nets originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Oddsmakers aren't giving the Boston Celtics much of a chance for their first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets.

The C's enter the series, which begins Saturday night, with +810 odds to pull off the upset. The Nets are listed as -1429 favorites -- provided by our partner, PointsBet Sportsbook.

Forsberg: Celtics-Nets preview and prediction

The underdog role is nothing new to Marcus Smart. The longest-tenured Celtic has been one plenty of times since being drafted by Boston in 2014. That's why he isn't sweating this opening series against the No. 2 seed.

"We know the odds are against us, we know what we're up against," Smart said Friday. "This isn't our first time being up against a Goliath of this matter and being underdogs, so we just got to come out there and play. All the cards on the table, no holding back. At this point we have nothing to lose, so go out there and just have fun and do it."

Led by the "Big Three" of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, the Nets arguably are the most talented team in the NBA when healthy. Smart is well-aware of what the challenge that lies ahead, but the series isn't won on paper.

“We’ve seen it — especially in the playoffs, time after time — talent isn’t the one that always wins,” Smart said. “You just got to go out there and play. Now if we just go out there and lay down, then of course that talent becomes a problem even more.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens echoed Smart's sentiments and likened the team's mentality to his college basketball coaching days at Butler, where he led the Bulldogs to two straight National Championship appearances in 2010 and 2011.

"There obviously are a lot of things we have to do well, and we're looking forward to that challenge," Stevens said. "This is why you coach, it's why you play. And I know our guys are looking forward to it and I'm looking forward to it.

"In a lot of similar situations, we've been thought of in an underdog role back in our days at Butler, but we never thought of ourselves that way when we are in our locker room talking to eachother, which is exactly the way we are here."

There's no doubt the inconsistent Celtics will have their work cut out for them. They lost all three of their regular-season matchups against a Brooklyn team that didn't have James Harden in Game 1 or Kevin Durant in Games 2 and 3. Now that the Nets are at full strength, and Boston won't have Jaylen Brown, it's looking like a true David vs. Goliath scenario.

Game 1 of Celtics vs. Nets is set to tip off at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.