Ime Udoka downplays Marcus Smart’s comments about Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum

"Not trying to blow it out of proportion."

Marcus Smart Celtics
The Celtics have had a dramatic start to the season. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Magic, Ime Udoka downplayed Marcus Smart’s comments about Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum following the Celtics‘ loss to the Bulls.

After the Celtics blew a big lead in historic fashion on Monday, Smart called out Tatum and Brown, saying he just wants to play basketball.

“I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys try to pass the ball,” Smart said. “They don’t want to pass the ball and that’s something that they’re going to learn. They’re still learning and we’re proud of the progress they are making, but they are going to have to make another step and find ways to not only create for themselves but create for others on this team.”


Udoka said he has been talking about many of the same things to Tatum and Brown.

“I’ve preached that from Day One,” Udoka said. “Jayson and Jaylen are guys growing in that area, being playmakers, so it’s stuff we’re constantly showing on film, talking about. So it’s nothing new as far as what we have shown and done, and they’ve done a great job in those areas.”

Udoka added that some conflict is inevitable between players who have spent a lot of time around each other.

“Marcus and Jaylen and Jayson have a history together, being together for a long time, and every team I’ve ever been on or coached has had moments where they butt heads,” Udoka said. “So it’s nothing that we haven’t talked about, nothing, no area that they haven’t shown improvement and growth in, and so we’ll leave it at that. I mean, it’s something that’s addressed and continually preached with those guys and so not trying to blow it out of proportion.”

Brad Stevens downplayed Smart’s comments as well, going on NBC Sports Boston seemingly to address them specifically on Wednesday. He suggested that while he might have preferred a more measured approach, Smart did speak to Tatum and Brown which Stevens felt was most important.


In any case, the Celtics could use a win over the Magic on Wednesday to help calm the early-season storm around the team.

“None of us are happy, record-wise, the way we’ve started,” Udoka said. “We’ve got a competitive group, a group that’s been together for awhile and some new additions, some new coaches, but the standard is the standard and the fact that we’ve played well enough to win a lot of games, we could easily be the other way. It’s taking that step and finishing.

“We played Orlando twice in the preseason, so we know them well. Another chance to get out and play a whole 48 minutes, and have to finish with the right result this time.”


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