As a die-hard Celtics fan, I self-appoint myself to speak for all Celtics fans - this sucks. Not in a 'Kyrie is causing me headaches' way because that was brought upon by the rookie ascension of Tatum. It's also not in the, 'Why doesn't Kemba and Hayward just fit better?' because a large part of that was just injuries leading to inconsistent rosters. But now it's, 'Gosh, I really hope we can beat Orlando Magic tomorrow' type-of-suck. To make it worse, Marcus Smart just uncharacteristically plastered the two franchise players in public.
"Every team knows we're trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen. Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everybody's scouting report is to make those guys pass the ball", Smart said in the postgame conference after the Celtics blew a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter to Chicago on Tuesday to lose by 14. That, by the way, was the first time in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55) that a team lost by 14+ points after leading by 14+ entering the 4th quarter. It only gets better.
Smart continued, "They don't want to pass the ball. That's something that they're going to learn. They're still learning." This prompted the Big Perk to go on First Take and blast Smart.
“Marcus Smart has lost his damn mind… How does Marcus Smart go up there talking about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum needs to pass the ball — he should be talking about defense. You know what, [Chicago’s] DeMar DeRozan had 37 last night on 75 percent shooting.”
Kendrick Perkins, First Take
So what's real and what's phony? Well, Smart had zero assists in over 33 minutes, so he doesn't have much of a leg to stand on. Tatum, however, was 1/8 from the field in the fourth, with at least two of those misses being awful double-teamed contested shots. Brown was scoreless with two shots in the last period. You could even tell Smart was angry at Tatum and Brown because, by the fourth, he seemed to be only passing to Al Horford.
But I'd suggest that Smart checks out the 2:27 mark of the fourth when Tatum was doubled teamed and passed it to him for a wide-open three leading a loud clunk and miss. Just like how you can hit a game-clinching three with two minutes to go, you can just as easily miss a game-saving three with two minutes left on the clock.
Is a contested shot by Tatum a better look than a wide-open Smart shot? Draymond Green once said there was no need for him to shoot when Steph Curry was even half-open. But Tatum is not Steph, because Steph would never be shooting 15.7% in the clutch like Tatum is this season.
First-time head coach Ime Udoka called it just a "lapse of concentration and killer instinct for the most part" during the postgame, which is very ironic. Because the Brad Stevens system was criticized for not being alpha-dominated, and now Udokas is criticized for being too alpha?
Brad did touch on Smart's postgame comments claiming, "When you see [Marcus] & Jayson sitting down eating breakfast together today and talking about how to find our solution for our team... those guys want to win," he said on NBCS Boston. That's a far cry from Perkins' claim of Smart causing "turmoil within the locker room."
NBA history dictates that role players are not that happy and efficient when they're told to stand in the corner and be ready. But happy or not, not having a single defensive rebound in the entire fourth as the Celtics did is abysmal. Only seven games in, strap your seat belts Celtic fans because this could be a bumpy ride.