The Boston Celtics are coming out of the All-Star break with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. They continue to have great chemistry and are starting to get healthier, and it seems likely that they will be contenders during the NBA postseason.
In fact, one Celtic thinks that this team is a bigger contender than any other Celtics team he has played for.
That would be Marcus Smart. The rugged defensive playmaker and sparkplug opened up and gave his thoughts on the team in a recent interview and communicated that he truly believes that the C's have a chance to go all the way this year.
"(Other teams were) potential contenders, but not as much of a contender as this team is," Smart said to MassLive's Tom Westerholm. "I've had some where we thought, ‘Maybe we can go.' That run that we had with Isaiah Thomas, we thought we were a pretty good team, even the two years ago team where we made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but this year is just a different feeling. We really got that sense of ‘We really, really, really, really have a chance this year,' and it's very evident to us. I think it's starting to be evident to people around the league, and it's evident to fans around the league."
This is a pretty important statement considering that it's coming from Smart. After all, the sixth-year pro is the longest-tenured Celtic, so he would know better than anyone else how competitive this year's Celtics are.
And Smart does have a point. The Celtics have the third-best point differential in the NBA with a mark of plus-6.9. That trails only the Los Angeles Lakers (plus-7.4) and Milwaukee Bucks (plus-12.1), two teams that are considered to be big-time title favorites this season.
And though the C's are so highly ranked, they have been plagued with injury troubles throughout the season that have seen key players like Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Gordon Hayward miss time. Robert Williams has also missed 33 games and will provide needed depth at center when he returns. So, if they can get and stay healthy, the sky is the limit for them.
We'll see how much the Celtics can do come the postseason and if they can really be contenders. But as it stands, it seems that they are poised to be much more competitive than the team was last year at the very least.
This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.