Jan 19, 2011, 11:36 AM EDT
To borrow a line from Inigo in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Sentinel: Is the (Magic) tougher now?
Smith: Tough is relative. Tough to who? Is anybody tough?
Sentinel: One could argue the Celtics are tough.
Smith: They act tough. They’re not really tough. They act tough.
Smith goes on to say that he thinks playing in close games is part of what makes a team tough. It’s about execution in the clutch. In which case those Celtics got a little tougher in that close game with the Magic Monday night. Oh, and they showed they are better at closing out a game out, too.
Admittedly, there is a little school yard bully in the Celtics — Kevin Garnett has a long history of getting in the face of little guards but not physically challenging those who can push back just as hard.
But Boston has a ring, and you don’t get that without mental and physical toughness. They were tough enough to push the Lakers to the brink in the NBA finals last year, in a Game 7 without their starting center. You can argue the Lakers were tougher if you want (their center was dragging his leg around all series) but that doesn’t make the Celtics less tough. They have proven to possess a mental fortitude, an ability to stand up to pressure in recent years that only one other team can claim to match. And it’s not the Magic.
Toughness is who can execute in pressure situations against a good team. Last year in the playoffs and again on Monday, the Celtics were tougher than the Magic. That was not just an act.
- NBA Draft prospect matchups to watch in NCAA Tourament this weekend 2
- Report: LeBron James frustrated with Kevin Love for not fitting in 83
- Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Kevin Love seems to be fitting in just fine suddenly 4
- It’s official: Dwight Howard will return to Rockets’ lineup Wednesday 2
- Dwyane Wade on MVP race: “I would say James Harden” 27
- Report: Rockets’ Patrick Beverley has torn ligament in wrist, to decide course in 7-10 days 2
- Derrick Rose expects to be cleared for contact soon, says he feels no pain in right knee 9
- Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: Warriors win Pacific Division, may win much more 20