Marcus Smart reckons the Boston Celtics are regaining their swagger following a smoother period which has seen them win four of their last five games.
The player had been quite vocal in questioning the team's mentality and lowered fear factor this season. But, after three wins on the bounce, he believes that things are finally falling into place for the Eastern Conference giants.
The Celtics are coming off a 118-109 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday but don't play again until Thursday. Speaking to the media ahead of Tuesday's practice session, the guard spoke about the toughness it takes to win games in the NBA, but he was also confident that things are on the mend.
“I am constantly telling these guys that a lot of games that we’re going to win aren’t going to be pretty,” he said, via Boston.com. “If you are trying to be pretty then this isn’t the game for you. You have to be able to get your nose bloodied and get dirty to win these games.
“It’s funny because if you don’t humble yourself, the world has a way of humbling you for you. For us to go through what we’ve been going through, it was something that we needed. It brought us back to reality.
“Everybody is playing with a little more attitude – a little more swagger – which we were missing. I think we’re getting our swagger back.”
Smart had previously accused the Cs of "playing like punks" but he's quite pleased with the way things have been going lately.
Brad Stevens' side will host the New York Knicks at their TD Garden arena on Thursday and are hoping to avenge the 117-109 loss they suffered on their home turf late last month. A fourth-straight win would probably fully convince Smart.
What This Means
If Smart is right, then there could be a major power shift in the East approaching the turn of the year.
The Celtics were tipped to top the conference and make it to the finals before the start of the season, yet it has been a difficult start. A string of wins, though, could see them get back in the fight with the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks for the top spot.