The start to the 2021-22 NBA campaign hasn’t been smoothest for the Boston Celtics. Seven games into the season and the Cs sit at 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 2-5. On Monday night the team dropped their third consecutive game thanks to a fourth-quarter implosion which saw Boston blow a 19-point lead to the Chicago Bulls.
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown opted against speaking with reporters following the loss, Marcus Smart, the team’s starting point guard, most certainly did. A visibly agitated Smart used his media time to air out the play of the All-Star duo, pointing the finger at Tatum and Brown for the Boston’s piss-poor 11-point fourth-quarter — a decision that did not sit well with former Celtics champion Kendrick Perkins.
“Marcus Smart has lost his damn mind,” Perkins said on Tuesday’s airing of ESPN’s First Take.
“There are certain things you know as a player that you can’t come out and do in an interview or come out and say in an interview, and those are one of the things,” Perkins proclaimed. “You cannot attack your two franchise guys in the media saying that they need to pass the ball. Not only are you attacking them, you’re attacking the first-year head coach in Ime Udoka, who is just starting to get his feet into the sand a little bit and trying to figure things out.”
Perkins: ‘You Don’t Break the Locker Room Code’
Smart’s gripe comes with Boston’s stagnant offense and the two Jays’ unwillingness to pass the rock.
“I would just like to play basketball,” Smart said following the 128-114 loss. “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.”
Having said that, Perkins doesn’t see any problem with Tatum and Brown dominating the basketball. In fact, he embraces the idea. However, what the former 14-year veteran does have an issue with is Smart’s willingness to take his complaints public.
“I played with a lot of Hall of Famers, 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, period. I don’t care if they go 0-for-20, period. And you don’t break the locker room code by calling them guys out in the public.”
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Defensive Struggles Continue for Boston
Offensive struggles are far from the only thing haunting Boston early this season. Through the first seven games, the Celtics own a defensive rating of 110.3 — 27th in the NBA. Over their last four games, they’ve surrendered a league-high average of 122 points. With trouble brewing on both ends of the court and with Smart known for his defensive prowess, Perkins thinks it may be time for the former perennial All-Defensive player to take a hard look in the mirror.
“You don’t need outside distractions. You don’t need turmoil inside the locker room,” Perkins said. “There’s a reason why they didn’t let Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown speak after the game last night because they would’ve had to go after Marcus Smart. How does Marcus Smart go up there talking about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum need to pass the ball — he should be talking about defense. You know what, [Bulls forward] DeMar DeRozan had 37 last night on 75 percent shooting.”
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