Smart says Celtics not 'together' after loss, recent skid
NBA.com Global on Feb 28, 2019 07:38 AM
FILE - BOSTON, MA - MAY 3: Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics reacts during the game against the Philadelphia 76ers during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
The last time the Boston Celtics won at Scotiabank Arena, it was known as Air Canada Center and the date was April 4, 2015. The result was no different last night (Wednesday, PHL time), as the Toronto Raptors walloped the Celtics 118-95 in a game that was basically over at halftime.
After the game, the storyline was about the Celtics, who have lost three straight and five of their last seven games. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference, 9.5 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Bucks and 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 4 seed. To Celtics guard Marcus Smart, the issue behind Boston's woes is easy to pinpoint.
"Nobody is together," Smart told reporters Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). "We've got to have everybody on the same page doing the same things at the same time."
Smart had even more to say on the topic, too, per Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com.
"What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together. And that's it. We're just not together. Plain and simple. That's it," Smart said. "Because if we were together, that wouldn't happen. We're all talking and linking up, but like I said, it's something we're going through, and it's something we're going to have to continue to work at and figure it out."
The Celtics led 32-30 after one quarter and scored the opening points of the second, but the Raptors answered with an 18-0 run to lead 48-34 at 7:14. Leonard's fast break dunk at 3:06 put Toronto up by 20, 59-39.
The Celtics had twice as many turnovers in the second quarter (eight) as made baskets (four).
"We have to be a lot more connected as a team," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ''That's been the theme for a while. ... 'I thought we were outplayed in every which way."
Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving had little to say about the loss to reporters on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time).
When asked about the Celtics' inability to recover from opponent's runs, Irving said, "I don't know." The Celtics face the Portland Trail Blazers tonight (Thursday, PHL time) and said of the focus for that game: "Just remaining tough." Irving also had little to say about Stevens' comment that Boston is taking too many "shortcuts" on defense.
"I don't know," Irving said. "It's up to Brad."
And, lastly, when asked about Smart's comments that the team isn't playing together, he said, "I mean, that's Marcus' opinion. I respect it." When asked if he shared Smart's opinion, Irving did not respond and ended the postgame session.
Kyrie wasnít too talkative with us tonight. On how to fix taking defensive shortcuts: ďI donít know. Itís up to Brad.Ē— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 27, 2019
On Marcus Smartís diagnosis that the Celtics arenít playing together: ďI mean, thatís Marcusís opinion. I respect it.Ē
Is it Kyrieís opinion too? *Silence*
Overall, it was a rough night for Irving. He finished with seven points -- his fewest in a game since scoring three points against Detroit on Oct. 27 (Oct. 28, PHL time) -- and shot 3-for-10 overall. He did not play in the fourth quarter.
Last season, Boston was one of the NBA's more resilient teams as well as one of its best defensive teams. In 2017-18, the Celtics finished No. 2 in Defensive Rating (103.1) and opponent field goal percentage (44.0), first in opponent 3-point percentage (33.9) and third in opponent points allowed (100.4).
To date this season, Boston ranks No. 2 in opponent field goal percentage (44.5), but has fallen to seventh in opponent points allowed (106.9), eighth in opponent 3-point percentage (34.3) and fifth in Defensive Rating (106.1).
Veteran center Al Horford said he has been concerned with the Celtics' inability to weather blows from opponents in games this season. Smart, as well, express frustration at Boston's inability to capitalize on hustle plays that marked seasons past.
"For whatever reason, we're not fighting, continuing to fight at that level like in the past," Horford said, per ESPN. "It happened in Chicago where we didn't recover, and it happened again tonight."
"Right now, it doesn't surprise me because that's just how things are going for us," Smart said, per ESPN. "It surprises me in the fact that that's not who we are, but at this moment, it doesn't. We've just gotta fix it. Like I said, it's going to be fixed. It can and will be fixed. It's just not going at the pace we expected it to."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.