What will the Celtics look like when Marcus Smart returns in February?


Kristaps Porzingis’ early game with the Celtics will likely affect the atmosphere when Marcus Smart returns to Boston on February 4th.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Long considered the heartbeat of the team, Celtics fans will no doubt shower their admiration on Marcus Smart when he returns to TD Garden on February 4 for the first time as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

  • Celtics' Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after firing a three-pointer in the third quarter that puts Boston 73-58 ahead.  Teammate Marcus Smart (36) also reacted in the second half of the season when Joel Embiid (21) of the 76ers headed for the guest bench on the far right when Philadelphia took a time-out after the basket.  The Boston Celtics hosted the Philadelphia 76ers for game seven of their NBA Eastern Conference basketball semifinals series at TD Garden.

    2023-24 Celtics Schedule Released: When Will Marcus Smart Return To Boston?

The NBA schedulers, the anticipatory rascals that they are, will keep you waiting.

The Memphis Grizzlies will not visit TD Garden next season until February 4, the 49th of Thursday’s total of 82 games in the newly released 2023-24 Celtics roster.

You know what that means? The much-anticipated Celtics season is drawing to a close before you can welcome Marcus Smart back to his old home and tell him how you’re feeling, presumably in the form of a loud, sustained and heartfelt standing ovation.

The chance to welcome back Smart — the divisive, passionate, busy, dedicated, shrewd, unpredictable, always caring but sometimes misguided heartbeat of that era of the Celtics before his stunning June move to the Grizzlies — was clearly the No. 1 priority No. 1 among Celtics fans (and, cynically, opportunists too) who rushed to buy tickets after the league’s schedule ended at 3:00 p.m

A while later, at 4:12 p.m., out of curiosity, I hopped onto the Celtics’ website to see if there were any tickets available for Smart’s return. Let’s just say it’s the hot item of the season. The cheapest ticket was a $140 single ticket on the balcony. In section 302, also on the balcony, was a pair that resold for $1,250 each. I paid less vehicles. And you don’t even get a cool paper ticket anymore to keep as a souvenir. I can’t blame you for choosing to couch-lock this year and watch Mike and Scal narrate the celebrations.

It’s a shame that fans who are short of a ton of cash have to make a sacrifice to get in because the real Celtics fans have always been the people of Smart. But hey, at the same time there are tickets for the return of Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari with the Wizards a few days later on February 9th for $65 if you just want to say hello to someone who used to work here. However, I suspect they probably won’t get a highlight video.

As NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg noted, the delayed return gives Celtics fans about six months to prepare emotionally. (The Celtics will face Smart a few weeks earlier, on Nov. 19, on his new Memphis turf.) There’s also plenty of time for all sorts of plot twists.

The Patriots will be better than the sports radio moonhowlers would have you believe. The Bruins begin life after Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The Red Sox are keen to put themselves in a position to play relevant games in September, and maybe a few in October if all goes well.

And yet the Celtics, who only play their first preseason game on Oct. 8 against the Sixers, stick in my mind more than any of Boston’s most well-known sports franchises. The smart trade – and the bold, risky bet on Kristaps Porzingis, who came off the Wizards as part of the three-team deal – is a key reason, along with the Celtics’ standing as a genuine championship contender.

The announcement of the game schedule and the set date for the “Welcome Back, Marcus” show got me thinking about a question that can’t be answered until the games are played: what will the circumstances be like for the Celtics when Smart returns on June 4? February coming back?

Will Porzingis, who wisely skips the FIBA ​​World Championship tournament while recovering from plantar fasciitis, easily adapt to the Celtics’ offense? I’m convinced that one of the reasons Brad Stevens traded Smart was because he was involved in the annual May/June habit of the Celtics’ offense going haywire at the worst possible time. Porzingis can get so many easy balls and in an ideal world that should make life easier for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

But they have to share the ball. I’m not sure what to expect there with Porzingis. Tatum improved his passing game last season and needs to find a way to become more efficient next season. Despite what he brings to the table, Brown has never been a particularly able or willing passer, and I fear he may attempt to confirm his new $304 million contract in a counterproductive manner early in the season.

I don’t want to dwell on crappy scenarios, and it’s also something to watch out for when games start. For now, it’s best to keep hopes alive more broadly – that the highly talented Celtics remain healthy. . . that Joe Mazzulla will make the leap into his second semester as a coach. . . and that championship ambitions are still on course when Marcus Smart finally returns, with no complaints to be heard amidst the cheers.

Tom Vazquez

Tom Vazquez is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Tom Vazquez joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Tom Vazquez by emailing tomvazquez@ustimetoday.com.

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