The Boston Celtics only managed to score nine points in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls rose to a comeback win.
After the game, Marcus Smart voiced concerns about the offense and, in particular, the lack of ball movement by the franchise stars.
“Every team knows we’re trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen,” said Smart. “Every team is programmed and prepared to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think every scouting report is about getting these guys to pass the ball. You don’t want to pass the ball. “
Tatum finished the night with 20 points and three assists while Brown scored 28 points and three assists. The duo had only one sales each.
“That’s something they are going to learn,” said Smart. “They are still learning. We are proud of the progress they are making, but they need to take another step and find ways not only for themselves but for others on this team to create the dish for them later in the game.
“That’s what we asked them to do and they are learning. We just have to keep helping these guys to do this to help our team.”
Boston collapsed 19 points ahead in the third quarter and is now 2-5 in the season. Tatum and Brown are in their fifth and sixth years in the league, respectively, with the duo spearheading the Boston Offensive for much of their time in the league.
Smart has played alongside the duo throughout their careers, which easily makes the public comments curious.
Tatum is known for making isolated, high difficulty strokes, with a slow start to the season potentially a source of frustration for the team. Tatum’s point average has increased to 26.7 from 26.4 points per game, despite adding 4.4 extra shots per game.
Two of Boston’s defeats this season came on nights when Tatum attempted more than 30 shots despite struggling to find his efficiency. Against the Knicks, Tatum scored 20 points in 30 field goal attempts, while against the Wizards he scored just 27 in 32 attempts. The Celtics lost those two games by a combined seven point lead.
According to NBA.com statistics, there are eight players in the league who have isolation rates greater than 20 percent. Of these eight players, Giannis Antetokounmpo is in seventh place with 0.82 points per ball. Tatum is at a low 0.59. Last season, Tatum averaged 0.82 points per possession isolated on 34 percent of the field.
Statmuse lists Brown (2.5 per game) and Tatum (3.7 per game) in the bottom six leagues for assists per game among players with an average of at least 20 shot attempts per game.
There is no doubt that both players are capable of catching fire and making incredibly difficult competitive shots, but maybe Smart is right. Perhaps there is an easier way for the Celtics offensive to generate scoring opportunities than to isolate Tatum?
The Celtics hold the 19th offensive rating with 104.4.
Boston is still learning to play under new head coach Ime Udoka, but it’s worth noting that Smart averages 9.1 shot attempts per 36 minutes – the lowest figure in his career. Its usage percentage of 14.2 percent is also the lowest score in his career, which could suggest further evidence of why the comments were made.
Smart has mentioned that the team is “proud” of the young duo’s progress on the offensive, so this is hardly a sign of any major turmoil in the Celtics’ dressing room, but the frustration is clearly growing for a team that does not want to leave afterwards in a suddenly busy Eastern Conference mix.