Celtics guard Marcus Smart was at a loss for words following Boston’s 113-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.
“I don’t even know what to say to you guys at this point,” he told reporters. “Literally, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever had literally no answer for any questions. I honestly don’t know what it is. I’m stumped right now.”
Saturday’s defeat marked the Celtics’ fourth loss in five games, as the team once touted as the far and away favorite in the East fell to 10-10 on the season. Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, the seemingly moribund group is foraging for answers — anything might help illuminate why they can’t get it together.
“Words can’t even explain,” Smart said. “Déjà vu all over again, like we keep saying and doing the same thing after every game and it’s getting real annoying.”
Smart, a player who is rarely, if ever, questioned for his effort, attributed some of the Celtics’ inconsistencies to “lack of effort” and “lack of fear.”
“We don’t impose our fear and will on other teams,” he said. “Last year, teams used to — when they came in and played the Celtics, they knew they were in for a fight. This year, teams can’t wait to play us. That’s a problem.”
His comments echo those of Brad Stevens following the team’s loss to the New York Knicks Wednesday: The Celtics are lacking the same “personality” that powered their short-handed squad to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Smart doesn’t know why there’s a difference in attitude this season, but he is well aware that it can’t persist much longer.
“If I knew, we wouldn’t be having this situation, right?” Smart said. “Once we figure that out, things will start changing. But until then, we’ll continue to get our ass whooped.”
Smart expressed confidence in the team’s ability to move forward and regain their “swagger.” Up next for the Celtics is the 10-10 New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.
“Times like this, guys and teams tend to point the finger at one another and go their own ways, but this is a tight-knit group,” Smart said. “We care for each and every one in that locker room. We’re going to stick together. We’re just going to put our heads together and find out what we got to do to change things around.”