BOSTON — Marcus Smart is not happy with a 2-5 start to the Celtics season and he wants more unselfish play from the team’s All-Stars in the wake of those struggles.
The veteran point guard addressed both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the wake of a 19-point blown lead by Boston during the second half of Monday’s 128-114 loss. The Celtics shot just 21.7 percent from the field in the final frame as the Bulls outscored the Celtics 39-11 with Tatum and Brown combining to go 1-of-10 from the field.
“I would just like to play basketball,” Smart said when asked about the Celtics’ late-game offense. “Every team knows we are trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen. 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 are making but they are going to have to make another step and find ways to not only create for themselves but create for others on this team, to open up the court for them later in the game where they don’t always have to take those tough shots or take tough matchups when they do get the 1-on-1 and see a trap. Just reading that. It’s something that we’ve been asking for them to do and they’re learning. We just got to continue to help those guys do that and to help our team.”
Smart was made the team’s primary point guard this offseason after Kemba Walker was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason. However, he made the case for having the ball in his hands more to help Boston’s offense function better in critical moments.
“I mean, I think if I’m getting in the lane and I’m making it easy for other guys, I’m making it easier for everybody,” Smart explained. “Even if my shots aren’t falling, the threat that I put on teams coming off the pick-and-roll and getting to the basket or being in the post. Teams are doubling me in the post and if they do, everybody knows I’m a great passer and I’m going to find guys. Just really taking some ease off of Jayson and Jaylen early on in the game and even late in games sometimes so we’re not exhausting ourselves on the offensive end and then getting picked on the defensive end.”
Jaylen Brown declined to speak with the media after Smart’s comments and Jayson Tatum was not scheduled to meet with the media after shooting 1-of-8 from the field in the fourth quarter. The Celtics have opened the season with a 2-5 record, the team’s worst start to the year in the past decade and have dropped their first three games at the TD Garden. Amid those struggles, Smart wants to see change under new head coach Ime Udoka.
“There’s only so much I can do without the ball in my hands, I’m just standing in the corner,” he said. “We’re running plays for our best players, every team knows that. They do a good job of shutting that down. We can’t allow that. When they shut that down, we can’t keep trying to go to those guys. We gotta avoid that and find another way to give them the ball in the spots where they need the ball. Like I said for me, I can only do so much just standing there in the corner or when I give the ball away. I do everything I can on the other end to try to combat that. I try to talk, I try to make plays, get those guys the ball where they need it, where they want it.”
Story by Brian Robb, masslive.com