The Celtics lost their third straight game on Tuesday, falling in embarrassing fashion to the Raptors in Toronto. While the final score was 118-95, the game wasn’t even really that close — at one point, Boston trailed by 31 points.
As the Celtics struggle to determine why they’ve failed to deliver on lofty preseason expectations so far this season, veteran guard Marcus Smart offered one explanation, writes Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. In Smart’s view, the C’s are “just not together” during their increasingly common slumps.
“What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together,” Smart said. “And that’s it. We’re just not together. Plain and simple. That’s it. 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.”
Meanwhile, head coach Brad Stevens shared his own thoughts on what’s causing the Celtics’ on-court struggles.
“We were taking a lot of shortcuts, and that hurt us,” Stevens said following Tuesday’s loss, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
Asked about Smart’s and Stevens’ assessments of the Celtics’ slide, Kyrie Irving didn’t offer much to reporters on Tuesday night. Addressing Smart’s opinion that the C’s aren’t playing “together,” Irving replied, “That’s Marcus’ opinion. I respect it.” When a reporter asked whether Kyrie agreed that the Celtics were taking shortcuts and inquired about what the team might do to fix the issue, the All-Star point guard said, “I don’t know, it’s up to Brad.”
While Hoops Rumors typically doesn’t focus too much on game-to-game results, the ongoing dysfunction in Boston could potentially have a huge impact on the coming offseason. Irving – who was seen talking to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in the locker room after Tuesday’s game, per Himmelsbach – will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and no longer appears fully committed to his preseason vow that he’d re-sign with the Celtics.
If the Celtics don’t get things sorted out by the playoffs and are eliminated in the first or second round, that could help swing Kyrie’s decision. In turn, if Irving leaves, Boston would probably be far less inclined to go all-in for Anthony Davis on the trade market. In other words, the Celtics’ play over the next couple months will be worth watching closely, since it could significantly affect the NBA landscape going forward.