NBA

Marcus Smart says Celtics ready to respond to Warriors’ physicality in Game 3: Fight ‘fire with fire’

The increased physicality of Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Finals, which the Golden State Warriors won in convincing fashion to tie the series with the Boston Celtics, has been a major talking point in the following days. Draymond Green’s ability to set the tone/antics depending on which side you’re on, have been a focal point. 

On the very first play of the game, Green met Al Horford well beyond the 3-point line and forced a jump ball. He carried that intensity throughout the game, and was instrumental in the Warriors’ win. At the same time, he once again came close to crossing the line and hurting his team. He picked up a technical foul in the first quarter after getting into it with Grant Williams, and could have had another one after an incident with Jaylen Brown in the second quarter. 

While Green is well aware of the fact that he’s playing with fire at times, he told reporters on Tuesday that he feels it’s his responsibility to play with intensity and give his team an edge. His full response:

“I just thought [the physicality] was something that we needed to bring. You get to the NBA Finals and physicality and meeting force with force is important. It’s just something that you have to bring to this game.”

“I thought when I looked back at Game 1, when I watched the film and even just how I felt, I just didn’t think they felt us enough. You can’t get to this stage, to this level, and the reason you lose is because a team didn’t feel you. That’s a shame. You have to lose once you get to this level because a team was just better than you.”

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I’m going on about my summer and we lost the NBA Finals because we couldn’t meet force with force. So I think that was just kind of it for me and understanding that, like I said, that is my department. That’s where I’m supposed to lead, and I can’t let my guys down.”

The Celtics did not seem prepared for just how much more physical the Warriors would be in Game 2, and fell apart in the third quarter. Postgame, Jayson Tatum even issued a brief complaint that the Celtics, “weren’t getting the benefit of the doubt” when it came to physical play. 

But if there’s one thing that’s stood out about the Celtics’ postseason run, it’s that they’ve had a response for every bit of adversity they’ve faced along the way. So far, they’re a perfect 6-0 following a loss, and will be looking to make it 7-0 in Game 3. To get the job done, they know they’ll have to match the Warriors’ physicality, and are prepared to do just that. 

“I mean, you respond to fire with fire, right?” Marcus Smart said. “We’ve just got to turn around and do the same thing. If he’s going to come in here and try to be physical, this is our house and we’ve got to protect it.

“As any competitor would tell you, when you get hit in the mouth like that, there’s only one way to respond, and if you’re not really ready to do that, then you don’t need to be on this stage,” Smart added. “This is a stage where we’ve got to be willing to risk it all out there for your team and for the victory. By all means necessary. That’s the mindset that they have. It’s the mindset we have. But we’ve got to go out there and execute it.”



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