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Smart: Celtics ‘just not together’ in recent slide

After the Celtics suffered their worst loss of the season, a 118-95 drubbing Tuesday at the hands of the conference rival Raptors, Boston starting shooting guard Marcus Smart said the team is “just not together,” in contrast to the Celtics squads in recent seasons that exceeded expectations.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together,” Smart said. “And that’s it. We’re just not together. Plain and simple. That’s it. Because if we were together, that wouldn’t happen. We’re all talking and linking up, but like I said, it’s something we’re going through, and it’s something we’re going to have to continue to work at and figure it out.”

But following a pair of made free throws by Celtics backup point guard Terry Rozier, the Raptors mounted an 18-0 run to lead 48-34. The Celtics never narrowed the deficit to fewer than 11 points, as the Raptors dominated the game with precision passing, quick second-side actions and transition baskets.

“I thought we were just outplayed in every which way,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I don’t want to take away from Toronto, but am I thrilled about how we played? No.”1

After the game, Stevens said the Celtics’ defensive failures were the latest in an unsettling pattern during their current three-game losing streak.

“This is real,” the coach said. “The reality is that we’re taking a lot of shortcuts and not being as solid as we have been in the past in the last two games. I thought we were really good against Milwaukee. So, it’s not like we don’t know what we need to do, but for whatever reason, we’ve taken too many shortcuts. You can’t do that against any team. Certainly tonight, they exposed us and played great.”

Asked how the Celtics could address the defensive short cuts characterized by Stevens, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving responded, “I don’t know. It’s up to Brad.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In recent weeks, Irving has been expressive about his perceptions of the challenges present in the Celtics’ locker room this season and the specific burdens of assuming the mantle of leadership of a talented roster. He has openly challenged teammates, both on the floor and in explicit comments to the media.