Boston’s Marcus Smart critical of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum’s passing in Bulls loss, but issues run deeper

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For most of the game against the Chicago Bulls, it looked indeed as if the Boston Celtics had indeed turned the corner when it comes to putting in a consistent product in terms of effort on both ends of the court.

After a bit of a rough start, the Celtics clamped down their focus and effort, and built a 19-point lead by the third quarter, only to see Chicago attack them in the fourth quarter relentlessly, with a strong response from Boston nowhere to be found. After the game, a 14 point loss that dropped the club to a 5 – 2 record, veteran point guard Marcus Smart had plenty to say about what went wrong.

“I think if we knew the answer, we wouldn’t be here talking about it,” Smart offered, clearly perturbed with the loss.

“It’s something that we’ve got to fix,” he added. “Whatever we have to do, we’ve got to figure it out.”

“Nobody’s going to figure it out for us … I always tell people before you see a rainbow, it has to rain. We’re going through the rain right now, so we have to figure out how to get out of it. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be pretty. We’ve just got to figure out a way. We don’t know what that is, but we’ve got to figure it out.”

“I think we will,” Smart said optimistically in a muted tone. “We don’t know when, but we will, hopefully, sooner than later. But, we’ll figure it out.

The Flower Mound native had some concrete thoughts on his role in the team’s current losing ways, and how things might be improved that might have raised a few eyebrows, even if he had some solid points.

“There’s only so much I can do without the ball in my hand, sitting in the corner. We’re running plays for our best players (Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum), every team knows that. They do a good job of shutting that down. We can’t keep trying to go to those guys, we’ve got to abort that and find a way to give them the ball in the spots they need the ball.”

“I do everything I can, on the other hand, to combat (other teams shutting plays down for the Jays),” explained Smart. “I try to talk (and) make plays, get those guys the ball where they need it, where they want it.”

“Every team knows we’re trying to go to Jaylen and Jayson,” he continued. And everything is programmed and studied to stop (them).”

“I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys try to pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball and that’s something that they’re going to learn. They’re still learning, and we’re proud of the progress they’re making. But, they’re going to have to take another step and find ways to not only create for themselves (but) to create for others on this team to open up the core for them later on in the game where they don’t have to always take those tough shots or take tough matchups.”

Still, it wasn’t readily apparent that passing per se was the issue that drove the late collapse against the Bulls Monday.

Smart does seem to have a point that he is not being used much differently than he has in the past, but hasn’t made a compelling case this season that he should be.

Generally speaking, the Jays have held the ball more this season with assists down for both, even if that was not the problem in the fourth quarter against Chicago.

A closer look suggests the team is leaning heavily into shooters who are either bad right now or have always been middling at best while younger, better shooters who may be struggling even more than veterans with the defensive schema can’t get on the floor.

Smart is not wrong that as a whole getting the team to function as a less dual-star heliocentric model will improve things overall. But, if the team cannot find ways to score besides jumpers and cannot get back on defense to stop transition attacks, things aren’t going to get better any time soon.

This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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