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Marcus Smart, the stretch run, and lots of Kyrie Irving talk (links & quotes)

Enough about Kyrie Irving, let’s talk about Kyrie Irving.

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a quick break from the Kyrie Irving media circus to appreciate Marcus Smart. via B/R

It does not surprise those closest to Smart that he is playing his best basketball of his career while enduring the toughest moment of his life. “There’s no question that’s not a coincidence,” says the younger Forte. “That’s been that kid’s mindset: Every time something gets tough, something gets harder, he somehow rises.”

Also, the Celtics are focused on the stretch run. via The Athletic.

The seeding part could be difficult. The Celtics currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, 6.5 games behind the top-seeded Bucks and 5.5 games behind the second-ranked Raptors. With just 24 games left, climbing anywhere above third place looks like a long shot. Morris mentioned the No. 1 seed as a goal, but, in all likelihood, the Celtics will enter the playoffs almost assured of going on the road if they reach the second round. To Morris, that’s less than ideal.

“Hell yeah (seeding matters),” he said. “It means a lot. Like we seen last year, we lost one game in Boston in the entire playoffs. Obviously that meant a lot. For any other team, man, being able to know if you’re going down to a seventh game and you get it at your home court it’s going to be a big factor with that sixth man being involved.”

Ok fine, let’s get to the Kyrie talk. via NBCBoston

Irving, already worn down from the incessant speculation about his future ever since his name got dragged into the Anthony Davis trade request drama, could have laughed off the video. He could have tried to shift the focus to Thursday night’s Eastern Conference showdown with the Milwaukee Bucks. Instead, Irving pushed back at the notion that he should have to respond to a random clip of him talking with a close acquaintance and the story snowballed.

Also via NBCBoston

Ainge admitted Irving perhaps could have handled his response better but still sympathized with his star guard.

”I do think it’s silly that a video becomes a story,” Ainge said. “I guess you would expect that a question like that would come up if there’s a video out there of them talking.

”But I also understand the perspective of the athlete who is just tired of all the drama and can’t do anything without people bugging him about it.”