It had been crucial without point guards Kemba Walker, Payton Pritchard and now Marcus Smart sidelined. But the 13-13 Celtics have grown to rely too much on the two.
And when one has as bad a game as Tatum did Sunday in a loss to the Washington Wizards, others outside of Walker and Brown need to step up. They need to make the extra pass, move the basketball, attack the rim off the bounce or simply be ready to shoot themselves.
It hasn’t happened during stretches this season, and the Celtics are in the midst of the most recent one. Boston assisted on a season-low 14 of 32 baskets Sunday. The Green previously set a season-worst 15 assists Friday.
Head coach Brad Stevens said the offensive mentality has clearly been an “issue.”
“Guys that really move the ball or guys that really run the spots and really execute hard have probably got to be the priority, playing-wise, for now around our very best players,” Stevens told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “And I think that that’s where we’re gonna have to get to because that’s clearly an issue.”
The Celtics assisted just 15 of 36 baskets during a loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday, which, ironically came one night after Stevens praised the group for a 30-assist output over the Toronto Raptors.
Brown was asked about Boston’s low assist total Sunday and simply responded, “No comment.”
The Celtics can’t beat good teams playing that way. Actually, they can’t even beat bad teams playing that way as both Detroit and Washington are two of the worst in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s not like we are going to roll the balls out and win that game,” Stevens said regarding the Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook-led Wizards. “We have to play well so when we don’t play well and we don’t take care of the little things, we definitely have no chance.”
The Celtics will look to improve that ball movement and offensive mindset against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.