From Eastern Conference favorites to Eastern Conference mediocrity?

That’s the reality of the Boston Celtics right now, who after coming just one game short of a trip to the Finals last year, find themselves struggling to stay in the playoff picture.

The team is sitting at a lowly 9-9 through the first 18 games, a mark lower than the Hornets, Pistons, and Pacers, and good enough for just 8th in the Conference.

In light of this poor performance, Marcus Smart urged his Celtics to play with some more urgency.

(via The Boston Herald)

“It’s the same old song,” he said. “You know, it gets annoying. I don’t even know what to say at this point. You’ve already done heard it. I’m tired of talking about it. I don’t know.”

And when asked if he is still confident his team could win a Championship, he affirmed he still believed.

“I am,” he said, “but we’ve got to stop sugarcoating things. That’s the problem. We’ve got to stop sugarcoating it. We’ve just got to call it what it is. We’re playing like punks; that’s just what it is.

It’s not everybody. You’ve got guys out there that are playing and playing hard. That’s some, but we don’t have all five guys at the same time. So teams are going to continue to whup us.”

Leave it to Marcus Smart to keep it real.

The problems plaguing the team right now isn’t something that can be drawn up on a stat sheet.

The Celtics, as good as they are, aren’t playing as a unit. Worse, they’re not playing with urgency despite their disappointing play.

Good news is, it’s not too late for them. With guys like Smart in the locker room (and a head coach like Brad Stevens), the team has hope of re-lighting that spark they had just a year ago.

But they better get it together soon, or they might find themselves too far behind to catch up.

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