The Boston Celtics had a players-only meeting before Wednesday’s 92-79 win in Orlando over the Magic, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The reunion came in the wake of Boston’s collapse in the fourth quarter on Monday against the Chicago Bulls, when Boston went from leading 14 early in the quarter to losing 14, and falling to 2-5 on the season, thanks to Chicago. beat Boston 39-11 at home.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart said during his postgame press session that the team’s two young All-Stars, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, need to pass the ball more.
All three players discussed both the collapse and Smart’s comments, sources told Wojnarowski, and sources also said it was emotional at times.
“The last few days, we’ve been focused on Orlando,” Brown said after scoring 28 points in Boston’s win. “That was the goal: to get out there, try to get a win. That was it. The team meeting was just an opportunity to talk as a group, get some communication and move on.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been playing basketball together for a long time, all of us, especially our core group. So when it comes down to it, it’s all about finding ways to win and that’s what got into the conversation. In the last two days, we have focused on Orlando, and now we are focused on Miami. “
After Monday’s loss, Smart unloaded at his post-game press conference, saying that Brown and Tatum need to become better dealers and that the team has to make him do more than just stand in the corner and wait for him. the ball arrives.
Brown said after Wednesday’s game that Smart’s comments weren’t necessarily helpful.
“Obviously, in the middle of trying to win games, it’s something we probably didn’t need,” Brown said. “But we all communicate and talk to each other. So we are always trying to find ways to win and I am open to everything when the guys bring it to me, the coaching staff. I am always watching movies trying to improve being a better basketball player and find ways to improve my teammates. So it felt good to get a win today. “
Boston has emphasized discussing the need for Brown and Tatum to grow as playmakers both during the preseason and during the first two weeks of the regular season. But Tatum’s assist numbers have dropped so far this season, dropping from 4.3 to 3.7 per game, despite playing more minutes, while Brown has fallen from 3.4 to 2.5 per game.
The need for both of them to grow in that area was made more acute by Boston’s decision to trade Kemba Walker, along with a first-round pick, for Al Horford this offseason as Boston looked to improve its defense and better balance its template. While point guard Dennis Schroder leads the team in assists this season with 6.4 per game, he has largely come off the bench behind Smart, putting the onus on Tatum and Brown to distribute the ball.
Tatum, meanwhile, has struggled to open the season, shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from three-point range. Those percentages didn’t help much in Wednesday’s game against Orlando, as Tatum finished 4 of 16 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
“I can do a lot better,” Brown said. “Try to find ways to get the guys going, talk to Jayson, try to find ways to get it going. Just improve our teammates. I think that’s part of being a leader and things like that. I am actively working on that. But that is my challenge and I am concentrating my energy on that. Continue to watch the movie and improve and see how I can improve my teammates. “