Friday, January 28 2022

The Boston Celtics have not been good to start the season. They rank 26th in defense and 19th in offense, which has resulted in a 2-5 start. To make matters even worse, the Celtics could’ve gotten a tough win against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night after leading by 19 points in the third quarter, but they squandered that and lost the game. 

When the final buzzer sounded, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart was very blunt in his response to what going wrong with the Celtics to start the season.

“Every team knows we’re going to Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown], and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen,” Smart said. “I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys try and 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 help our team.”

Smart didn’t just stop there, he went on to talk about how he would like to see his role change within the offense. When asked how he thinks he can help guide the offense to be more efficient, Smart called out how he’s often relegated to standing in the corner.

“There’s only so much I can do without the ball in my hands, I just stand in the corner,” Smart said. “When we’re running plays for your best players, every team knows that and 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 abort that and find them another way to get them the ball in spots that they need the ball. And like I said for me, I can only do so much standing in the corner, or when I come up and give the ball away.”

Smart’s not wrong in his assessment of Boston’s offense, it’s very isolation-heavy for both Tatum and Brown, and when that doesn’t work it often results in a last-second shot attempt that oftentimes doesn’t go in. So far this season, the Celtics rank 27th in the league in isolation offense, and Tatum ranks in the 23rd percentile in isolation scoring. Those aren’t great numbers. While both Tatum and Brown are gifted scorers, when opposing teams know what you’re going to do every trip down the floor, it’s not going to yield great results.

The Celtics need to find more creative ways to not just get Tatum and Brown the ball but also get others involved in the offense. That comes down to head coach Ime Udoka and his coaching staff deploying more creative offensive sets for his team to run. Otherwise, the Celtics are going to continue to run into the same issue all season long. 

The other part of this is Smart criticizing Tatum and Brown’s inability to pass the ball. It’s an area that both players certainly could improve upon, especially in situations where the defense begins to swarm them and they settle for a tough jumper instead of passing out of it. But now that Smart has spoken publicly about it, perhaps we’ll see a more cohesive offense from Boston going forward.



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