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.
- Wizards blow out Raptors to complete first-round sweep 10
- Chris Paul scores 34 points, Clippers win Game 4 to even series with Spurs 6
- Cavaliers advance to second round – but but maybe lose Kevin Love and moral high ground in process 51
- Mike Conley out for Game 4 with “serious” facial injury, no timetable for return 6
- Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Portland, take 3-0 series lead 2
- Bucks outwork Bulls, stay alive on Jerryd Bayless game-winner 6
- Nets use 18-0 second-half run to secure Game 3 victory over Hawks 6
- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle fined $25K for publicly criticizing officials after Game 3 loss to Rockets 10