The Boston Celtics have fallen behind 2-0 in their series against the Brooklyn Nets. With star guard Jaylen Brown suffering a season-ending injury back in May, the series has become even harder for Boston to win.
The Nets have a loaded roster and several players on the Celtics will have to step up to give them a chance. Boston can't think about winning the series right now; Brad Stevens' team simply has to think about winning Game 3 and getting back into this series, creating real drama for Game 4 and offering the possibility of a plot twist.
Boston still has a solid roster but the Celtics are playing an opposing team with so much talent. The big three of the Nets includes some of the best players in the world in James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant.
They are looking really good and it will be hard for the Celtics to overcome them.
The Nets have championship aspirations and the Celtics simply don't have the level of talent Brooklyn owns.
However, the Celtics could bounce back in Game 3 and give themselves a glimmer of hope in the series.
Marcus Smart will be the X-Factor for the Celtics
Marcus Smart has been an underrated part of the Celtics team for years. He has always provided great defense for the team and has been an underrated scoring threat. Smart averaged 13 points per game this season while doing it very quietly.
Obviously the attention gravitates towards Brown and Tatum as it should because they are stars but Smart is an integral part of the Celtics team.
Smart's defensive play will be vital if the Celtics are going to bounce back.
Smart will likely see time on Harden or Irving who are both great offensive players. It will be tough to stop them but if he can limit them it will help the Celtics potentially come back. He is a great defender but will have a tough task against historically great offensive talents in Harden and Irving. Although it will be tough Smart has all the tools to take one of them out of the game.
While Smart's name isn't usually brought up when you are talking about great defenders, he is up there. He has not only shown that he is a good player but also that he can deliver stops in big moments. Smart has been a part of the deep playoff runs this Celtics team has made. Although the team has not made a Finals run they have had runs where they have come up just short. In 2018 the Celtics lost to the LeBron James led Cleveland Cavaliers team in a seven-game series.
Smart didn't have a great shooting series against the Cavaliers but he stepped up on the defensive end. He was a big key in the Celtics even making it that far in the playoffs.
If the Celtics are going to have a shot against the Nets, they will need him to step up. Not only will Smart need to step up defensively but also offensively with Brown out for the season.
Look for Marcus Smart to be the X-Factor throughout the remainder of the series.
The Celtics have a tough road ahead as it will be very hard to beat this Nets team. They are already down 0-2 and are facing one of the most stacked teams ever. While many point to the Nets big 3 they also have a ton of depth on the roster.
Elevated play from Smart may be the only way the Celtics will have a chance in the series.