By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics have been bad to start this season, and it seems like it's just getting worse.
Boston hit a new low Monday night, dropping yet another home game as the team blew a 19-point, second-half lead to the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden. The 128-114 loss dropped the Celtics to 2-5 on the season, the team's worst start since a 1-6 beginning to the dreadful 2006-07 season.
The Celtics were outscored by 32 points over the final 13 minutes of the contest, as the offense came to a screeching halt in the fourth quarter. Boston shot under 22 percent for the final frame, hitting none of the eight threes the team attempted. Getting to the free throw line could have probably stooped the bleeding, but the C's attempted just one freebie in the fourth.
All of that led to an embarrassing 11-point quarter for Boston. Instead of a quality win over one of the league's hottest teams, the Celtics are now pointing fingers and playing the blame game as they search for answers on the young season.
Marcus Smart had plenty to say -- and plenty of blame to dole out after Boston's latest defeat. The Celtics point guard did not hold back, and he had his sights set on Boston's two stars: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Smart took umbrage with Tatum and Brown's ball-hogging ways, telling his teammates to pass the ball more.
"I would just like to play basketball. Every team knows we're going to Jayson and Jaylen, and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen," Smart said after the defeat. "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're 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 then you bring in a trap.
"Just reading that, it's something that we've been asking for them to do and they're learning," Smart continued. "We just got to continue to help those guys do that and help our team."
Smart did not seem too keen on Ime Udoka's offensive sets, either, which he believes relegates him to the corner too much.
"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 our best players, every team knows that, 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 got to 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."
It's nice to see Smart dishing out something after the game, considering he had zero assists in the loss. That makes him look a little silly for complaining so much about Tatum and Brown's perceived lack of passing. And a lack of ball movement from that duo was not the reason Boston blew Monday's lead. The Celtics got lazy on defense and kept allowing the Bulls to get easy and clean looks. Chicago took full advantage and dropped 39 points in the frame.
Then there is the fact that the Boston offense completely crumbled. Tatum was just 1-for-8 and Brown 0-for-2 in the fourth quarter, but they did do their job moving the ball around. But no one else was hitting shots that quarter either, as guys not named Tatum and Brown went 4-for-13 from the floor in the fourth.
And while Smart may be the most vocal of the bunch, he probably shouldn't be criticizing guys for their lack of passing. Smart has long been a black hole with the ball over the years, firing up questionable shot after questionable shot. Not once has Tatum or Brown questioned the guard's shot selection -- at least not in public.
Smart has also given teammates very few reasons to pass to him this season. Smart had a solid shooting night on Monday, going 5-for-11, but he was hitting just 25 percent of his shots over the first six games of the season. It has not been pretty.
But not much has been attractive for the Celtics to start the season, and now they're calling each other out in the press. Tatum and Brown did not respond to Smart's comments, as they both declined to chat with reporters following Monday's collapse.
We knew that the Celtics were going to go through some early growing pains this season, with a new head coach at the helm, Smart taking the keys as the team's starting point guard, and an extremely tough schedule to start. But Monday night was a new low, and now one of the perceived building blocks of the team is mad at the two pillars of the franchise. The foundation of the team appears to be shaking a bit as the team stumbles out of the gate.
But Smart is an emotional guy, and he saw this new low point as a good time to air his grievances. He's irritated and flustered, but he's also confident that the team will iron out its issues and put it all together.
It's stormy now, but he believes those clouds will clear soon enough.
"Before you see the rainbow, it has to rain," said Smart. "We're in the rain right now."
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