All in not well in Beantown. Armed with a 14-point lead after three quarters, the Boston Celtics collapsed down the stretch Monday night against the Chicago Bulls, losing 128-114. The loss was Boston’s third in a row, as the C’s are still looking for their first home win of the season. Even worse, guard Marcus Smart called out two teammates after the embarrassing loss — Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — drawing the ire of former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins.
Marcus Smart called out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
It’s one thing to get outscored 39-11 in the fourth quarter. However, it’s another thing to follow up the collapse with a public call-out of the two best players on the team.
During his postgame press conference, Smart wasn’t shy about his displeasure with Tatum and Brown.
“Every team knows we’re trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen,” Smart told NESN after the game. “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. They don’t want to pass the ball.”
He continued, saying, “That’s something that they’re going to learn. They’re still learning. We’re proud of the progress they’re making, but they’re 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 down in the game.”
Tatum and Brown combined for 48 points while shooting a solid 18-of-40 from the field. However, Tatum scored just two points in the fourth quarter on 1-for-8 shooting, while Brown was 0-for-2 in the final frame. Meanwhile, Smart finished the game with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but just a 1-for-2 clip in the fourth.
Kendrick Perkins criticizes Smart for calling out his teammates
Perkins, who spent eight seasons with the Celtics, joined ESPN’s First Take to discuss Smart’s comments. Right away, Perk made it known that the guard’s comments were unacceptable.
“Marcus Smart has lost his damn mind. You know, there are certain things you know as a player you can’t come out and say in the interview, and that’s one of the things. You cannot attack the two franchise guys in the media saying they need to pass the ball. Not only are you attacking them, but you’re also attacking the first-year head coach Ime Udoka who’s just starting to get his feet into the sand a little bit and trying to figure things out. You don’t need outside distractions, [and] you don’t need turmoil inside the locker room.”Kendrick Perkins
Perkins continued on, stressing how Smart should instead be focusing his attention on defense. The 27-year-old has been All-Defense twice in his first seven seasons.
“How is Marcus Smart going up there and talking about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum passing the ball?” Perk asked First Take panelists Stephen A. Smith, Marcus Spears, and Molly Qerim Rose. “He should be talking about defense. Because you know what? DeMar DeRozan had 37 last night on 75% shooting.”
The former NBA veteran also referenced his old Celtics squad from over a decade ago. Perkins was a member of the 2007-08 championship team featuring Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.
“I played with a lot of Hall of Famers,” Perkins said. “I played with some great players. And in the fourth quarter, we had a rule on the team. We go to the guys that get paid the big bucks. ‘Y’all take us home.’ And on the Celtics, that’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Period. I don’t care if they go 0-for-20. Period. You’re going to break a locker room code by calling those guys out in public.”
The Boston Celtics need to quickly right the ship
Last season was a rough one for the Celtics. Following a promising trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston went just 36-36 and quickly fell to the Brooklyn Nets in five games. Now, determined to put last season’s disappointment behind them, a 2-5 start will hardly calm any fan’s fears.
In their defense, the C’s were done no favors during the preseason. Udoka, Brown, and Al Horford all missed time in COVID-19 protocol. In addition, Dennis Schroder was limited with a knee contusion, while Smart missed a team flight and earned a one-game suspension. All of those issues have impacted early-season chemistry, especially with a first-time head coach replacing Brad Stevens behind the bench.
As far as Perkins’ assessment of Smart, there’s one area he missed the mark. In key stretches late in the game, you want a guy like Tatum taking the big shots. However, in Monday’s loss to Chicago, Tatum’s shots simply weren’t falling in the fourth as their lead quickly evaporated. In those instances, allowing a guy like Smart, who shot the ball well throughout the game, to try to help stop Chicago’s run could have changed the momentum.
However, Perk is correct in Smart’s decision of where to express his frustration. Sharing your opinion with Udoka and/or Brown and Tatum is one thing. But doing so to the media after the game will only divide a locker room further.
Everyone in Boston needs to be on the same page in order to turn around a disappointing 2-5 season. And that includes how players should handle speaking to reporters after a tough loss.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.