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As much as Kyrie Irving had the most impressive stat-line in the Boston Celtics' 124-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, Marcus Smart's presence in the starting lineup was a topic of discussion in the Celtics' locker room after the game.

The struggles of the Boston Celtics have been one of the most puzzling stories in the early part of this season.

The Celtics head back to Boston for a Friday night showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Of course, Boston could use Irving in a trade, but they are unlikely to do so. "So, I got to play nearly flawless every night to give us a chance to win". The former ACC player of the year is waiting patiently in the Kings depth chart behind bigs Willie Cauley-Stein and Nemanja Bjelica, but it will be hard to keep them there if he can keep performing like he did in his 20 point and 17 rebound game against the defending champion Warriors.

Boston, meanwhile, will be without Jaylen Brown, who didn't attend shootaround after suffering a hard fall and injuring his back late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss in Dallas. With Smart's spirited enthusiasm on the defensive end (picture a small dog running after a truck), the Pelicans turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter, leading to 11 Celtics points.

"Anthony Davis is going to require the biggest package of players in National Basketball Association history", Mannix said. It's uncertain whether he'll play against the Celtics.

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"Get me off the ball", Jrue Holiday said half-jokingly at Tuesday's practice.

But it's clear that for now, the Celtics need Marcus Smart, his defense, and most importantly, his energy, on the floor to start games. I don't even know what to say at this point.

For a team that had aspirations of competing for an NBA Title, the Celtics have started their 2018 campaign with a disappointing record of 11-10. 'But I like a lot of things I see in our team this season, and I'm not going to be impatient.

"We don't impose our fear and will on other teams", [Marcus] Smart said. Their current average margin of victory, plus-2.1 points, is what we would expect from a 45-win team.

Davis is now heading into the third year of his five-year, $127.1 million deal that contains no player or team options that run through the 20-21 campaign.