The Celtics blew a 19-point second-half lead in the loss — which dropped Boston’s record to 2-5 — and Smart after the game said Tatum and Brown “don’t want to pass the ball,” raising questions over whether there could be some chemistry problems brewing inside the locker room.
“Marcus Smart has lost his damn mind,” Perkins said Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “There’s certain things that you know as a player that you can’t come out and do in the interview or come out and say in the interview, and those are one of the things. You cannot attack your two franchise guys in the media saying they need to pass the ball. Not only are you attacking them. You’re attacking the first-year head coach in Ime Udoka, who’s just starting to get his feet into the sand a little bit and trying to figure things out.
“You don’t need outside distractions. You don’t need turmoil inside the locker room. There’s a reason why they didn’t let Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown speak after the game (Monday) night, because they went up after Marcus Smart. And hear this: I hear Marcus Smart going up there talking about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum need to pass the ball. He should be talking about defense. Because you know what? DeMar DeRozan had 37 (points Monday) night, on 75 percent shooting.”
It was an all-around embarrassing defeat for the Celtics, who were outscored 39-11 in the fourth quarter at TD Garden. And it’s fair to wonder whether they can right the ship, as Boston’s early-season struggles basically are a continuation of the woes the C’s endured for most of the 2020-21 campaign, during which they posted a 36-36 record before falling to the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.
In that sense, Smart’s comments might serve as a wake-up call, particularly for Tatum and Brown, two franchise cornerstones looking to bring their game to the next level. Or the pointed remarks might wind up being another negative footnote in what has become an increasingly precarious situation.
Either way, Perkins believes the Celtics’ success, or lack thereof, begins and ends with Tatum and Brown, making it difficult for him to support Smart’s bold motivational tactics.
“I played with a lot of Hall of Famers. I played with some great players. And in the fourth quarter, we had a rule on the team: We go to the guys that get paid the big bucks. ‘Ya’ll take us home,’ ” Perkins said. “And on the Celtics, that’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Period. Period. I don’t care of they got 0-for-20. Period. And you don’t break the locker room code by calling those guys out in public.”
The Celtics’ next opportunity to find their footing comes Wednesday night when they travel to Florida for a date with the Orlando Magic.