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The Boston Celtics are in dire straits this season after one of the worst fourth-quarter collapses in NBA history. Up by 14 points going into the final period against the Chicago Bulls last Monday, they somewhat contrived and ended up on the wrong side of a 39-11 mauling in the ensuing final 12 minutes, losing 128-114. Guard, Marcus Smart did not mince words in his post-game interview, calling out teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for not passing the ball enough, a statement that ruffled feathers of not a few. “Every team knows we are trying to go to Jayson and Jaylen,” smart said. “Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys pass the ball. They don’t want to pass the ball.”

Marcus Smart spoke his mind during last night's post-game interview — Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 2, 2021

SUBTLE DYSFUNCTION ESCALATES A players’ only meeting prior to locking horns with Orlando Magic on Wednesday failed to yield desired results, an indication that all might not be well in terms of cohesion and unity of purpose among the elite players of the 17-time NBA Champions.

Reporting for NBA Countdown on the Celtics holding a players-only meeting in Orlando – and how there remains a lot of work to be done among franchise’s key players. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 3, 2021

The internal troubles bedeviling the team dates back to when current President of Basketball Operations, Brad Steven held sway as Coach. He has been accused of failing to hold certain players accountable for being found wanting on the court and was reportedly critical of some players than others, leading to locker room tensions and misgivings, albeit in subtle manners. Things, however, came to a head after a Celtic meltdown at the United Centre gave way to the Marcus Smart outburst. He has never been the timid type and bares his mind regardless of whose ox is gored. A case in point is his tense interaction inside the locker room with Jaylen Brown during Game 2 of the 2020 Eastern Conference encounter against the Miami Heat, with objects thrown around. Teammates diffused the situation before any physical altercation could take place.

Marcus Smart is screaming in the #Celtics locker room and there is a bunch of arguing going on. Smart comes out say “y’all on that bullshit!” Team is imploding. Smart is in bathroom and there is still screaming coming from locker room. — gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) September 18, 2020

WAS SMART RIGHT IN HIS ASSESSMENT OF HIS TEAM MATES? Maybe he went about it the wrong way by calling out his teammates in front of the press, but at least he is trying to whip up a change for good. His passion, heart, and zeal have never been in doubt. He may not have the same offensive prowess as Brown and Tatum, but he is passionate on the court and almost always goes the extra mile for the team when push comes to shove.

NO CAUSE FOR ALARM Monday night annihilation by the Bulls proved piercing enough as the Celtics responded with a solid display last night against the Orlando Magic, securing a 92-79 victory in the process and logging a 3-5 record. With the benefit of foresight, there seems no cause for the alarm bells as it is still the early days of the season, but where the Celtics go from this point forward feels crucial in determining the direction the franchise is headed as a whole. Will they be able to fix the debacle or will these issues fester even further? Coach Ime Udoka has his work cut out because beyond his coaching abilities and game interpretation prowess, his man-management skills, more than ever, are required to calm frayed nerves, ease tensions, boost and sustain the team’s continued cohesion required to bring about the much needed competitive edge that passionate and demanding players like Marcus Smart ask of teammates.

Ime Udoka responds to Adrian Wojnarowski's report about the Celtics players only meeting 👀☘️ — Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 4, 2021

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