Things aren't going particularly well for the Boston Celtics in the early portion of the 2021-22 season.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Celtics had a players-only meeting that "was emotional at times" following Monday's 128-114 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Wojnarowski also suggested it was "not a terribly productive meeting, maybe not even beneficial," adding "these are issues with this team and this group that have been going on for a while."
The meeting came after Marcus Smart told reporters that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need to be more willing passers:
"I would just like to play basketball. Every team knows we are trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen and every team is programmed and studies to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everybody's scouting report is to make those guys try to 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 are 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 down 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 they bring the trap. Just reading that. It's something that we've been asking for them to do and they're learning. We just got to continue to help those guys do that and to help our team."
It should be noted head coach Ime Udoka told reporters it wasn't a players-only meeting and was instead a scheduled gathering. Brown and Al Horford also addressed the situation following Wednesday's win over the Orlando Magic:
While it was just one regular season loss, Monday's performance was concerning for the Celtics.
They appeared to be in full control for much of the game, which would have given them a head-to-head win over a potential Eastern Conference contender. However, Chicago outscored them 39-11 in the fourth quarter with Tatum and Brown combining to shoot 1-of-10 from the floor.
It marked a third consecutive loss for Boston and dropped it to an ugly 1-5 against Eastern Conference foes.
At that rate, the Celtics won't even be in the playoffs, let alone competing for a potential spot in the NBA Finals against the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat.
Tatum and Brown are shooting a lot, as the former is attempting 24.6 field goals per game and the latter is attempting 20.2. Al Horford is third on the team with 12.0, while Smart checks in at 9.7.
Still, Tatum and Brown are also the stars, and it is not like Smart has a history of knocking down shots when he is on the receiving end of passes. He is a career 37.5 percent shooter from the field and is better known for his defensive abilities.
Boston will certainly be under the spotlight after the initial struggles, and it can at least take solace knowing it bounced back against Orlando.