Friday, January 21

Marcus Smart wants Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to ‘pass the ball’ more as Celtics collapse against Bulls

The Boston Celtics could only handle nine points in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls pulled off a comeback.

After the game, Marcus Smart expressed concern about the offense and, in particular, the lack of movement of the ball by the stars of the franchise.

“Every team knows that we are trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen,” Smart said. “Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everyone’s scouting report is to get those guys to pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball.”

Tatum finished with 20 points and three assists on the night, while Brown had 28 points and three assists. The duo each recorded only one rotation.

“That’s something they are going to learn,” Smart said. “They are still learning. We are proud of the progress they are making, but they will have to go one step further and find ways to not only create for themselves, but to create for others on this team to open the gap for themselves later in the game. .

“It’s something we’ve been asking them to do and they’re learning. We just have to keep helping those guys do that to help our team.”

Leading by 19 points at the end of the third quarter, Boston collapsed and now sits at 2-5 on the season. Tatum and Brown are in their fifth and sixth years in the league respectively, with the duo leading Boston’s offense for much of their time in the league.

Smart has played alongside the duo for their entirety of their careers, which makes public comment a bit curious.

Tatum is known for taking high-difficulty shots in isolation, with a slow start to the season possibly a source of frustration for the team. Tatum’s scoring average has increased from 26.4 points per game to 26.7, although he is increasing 4.4 additional shots per game.

Two of Boston’s losses this season have come on nights Tatum has taken more than 30 shots despite having a hard time finding his efficiency. Against the Knicks, Tatum scored 20 points on 30 field goal attempts, while against the Wizards he had just 27 on 32 attempts. The Celtics lost those two games by a combined seven-point margin.

According to statistics from, there are eight players in the league who have a frequency of isolation greater than 20 percent. Of those eight players, Giannis Antetokounmpo ranks seventh in points per possession with 0.82. Tatum sits at a humble 0.59. Last season, Tatum averaged 0.82 points per possession in isolation with 34 percent from the field.

Statmuse lists Brown (2.5 per game) and Tatum (3.7 per game) in the last six league games in assists per game among players averaging at least 20 shot attempts per outing.

There is no question that both players are capable of catching fire and making incredibly difficult contested shots, but perhaps Smart is right. Perhaps there is an easier way for the Celtics offense to create scoring opportunities in addition to isolating Tatum?

The Celtics have the 19th offensive rating in the rankings with 104.4.

Boston is still learning how to play with new head coach Ime Udoka, but it’s worth noting that Smart averages 9.1 shot attempts every 36 minutes, the lowest mark in his career. Its usage percentage of 14.2 percent is also the lowest rating of its career, which could indicate further proof as to why the comments were made.

Smart mentioned that the team is “proud” of the young duo’s progress on the offensive side, so this isn’t a sign of much turmoil in the Celtics’ locker room, but frustration is clearly mounting for a team that doesn’t. wants to stay. behind in a suddenly busy mix from the Eastern Conference.

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