Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder for the Boston Celtics in 2021, it happened Wednesday night. Mired in a major slump, the Celtics dropped their third straight, falling to the Atlanta Hawks, to fall to 15-17 on the season. Their season was summed up in a nutshell when veteran guard, Marcus Smart, out since the end of January, made his way into the box score without even suiting up.
Marcus Smart proving he’s the leader of the Boston Celtics
The knock on Marcus Smart is shooting. He’s a guard who likes to shoot but doesn’t always do it very well. Smart, however, does everything else well. He’s a tremendous defender and his motor is always running. Need a loose ball? Smart will often get it and go all-out in doing so.
Smart has been out of the Boston Celtics lineup since late January. He’s averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 assists per game. Without their fiery guard, the Celtics have fizzled. Since his last game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 30, the Celtics have gone 5-9 and have failed to string together back-to-back victories.
Smart’s presence is sorely missed. His hustle is missed. Although Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the All-Stars making the big bucks, it’s Smart who has proven he’s the team leader. It’s clear how much the Celtics miss Smart in the lineup.
Lack of effort appears to be an issue for the Celtics
As the Boston Celtics have dropped below the .500 mark 32 games into the season, the big question keeps popping up. What’s wrong with the team? The Celtics have two NBA All-Stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They have a veteran point guard in Kemba Walker. The talent is there. The effort apparently hasn’t been.
Walker recently called out the team for its lack of effort. “(We) just need to play harder,” Walker said in a press conference after a loss to the Washington Wizards. “That’s it. We’re not playing hard. We’re not playing as hard as we know we can. When you play hard, great things happen. And right now, it just hasn’t been consistent, our play. So like I said, we’re going to continue to watch film and learn from our mistakes and get better.”
General manager Danny Ainge brought up the team’s lack of effort after Wednesday’s third straight loss. “The intensity level hasn’t been there,” Ainge said, according to NBA reporter Keith Smith. ‘I don’t know how to explain it. Our team isn’t playing well. They don’t play hard all the time. I don’t have an explanation. It’s been frustrating for the players and the coaches.”
Marcus Smart finds a way to get into the box score without playing
There was no fire in the Boston Celtics on Wednesday as they dropped their third straight, falling to the Atlanta Hawks. Former Boston Celtics player and current basketball analyst Kendrick Perkins blasted the team for their lack of effort. Danny Ainge said the team doesn’t play hard all the time. Effort should never be in question, especially on a young team.
The one Celtics player giving an all-out effort was a player not even in uniform. Marcus Smart, out with a calf strain since Jan. 30, was very vocal on the Celtics bench, trying to help get his teammates in position. Smart had the same fire on the bench he always has on the floor.
In fact, Smart may have been too vocal. He was slapped with a technical foul during the blowout loss. If the Celtics players on the court had that same drive Smart has off it, they might not be in the position they’re in.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.