The downfall in the 2022 NBA Finals etched an indelible wound on the side of the Boston Celtics, but Marcus Smart considers it as a blessing in disguise.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has provided an insightful statement on how the Cs “got to take the lesson the hard way” while using it as motivation to be back and be familiarized in crucial situations.

“You hear it all the time, it’s a lesson, but it’s tough when you’ve got to take the lesson the hard way,” Smart said, per Bobby Manning of CLNS Media. “We have to take the lesson the hard way. We learned a lot out of our experience and unfortunately we had to lose to do that, but we now know what it takes to play, to be there, the stress it takes on you, mentally, physically, emotionally. You kind of figure when and when not to be too excited about it, how to play it and how to keep yourself calm.

“It was a lot of factors that we’ve learned individually and as a group from this … it’s tough to have to learn the hard way … it’s still fresh for us, so guys are really just trying to wait, but once we do start talking, we’ll get that out there, but right now we’re just giving ourselves a break.”

After a late season emergence and the crushing of fellow East title heavyweights en route to their first Finals berth in 12 years, the Cs were on track on a defining title run, until their hopes were pounded to dust by the Golden State Warriors.

Despite even holding a 2-1 series momentum, Boston failed to capitalize and Golden State took the very best opportunities in response, winning three-straight games and capping off their fourth title in eight seasons.

Following the painful loss, the Cs have retooled very well in the offseason, acquiring a much-needed ball handler in Malcolm Brogdon and sharpshooting big man Danilo Gallinari. Though Gallinari will be sidelined indefinitely due to a left knee ACL tear, his veteran presence and voice will remain a key for the franchise’s ongoing hunt for the championship.

Seeking that 18th banner, the Celtics are hungry for more while boasting that battle scars from the recent Finals. As such, they remain in prime to contend with that formidable lineup and goodrich of promising talent.