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Marcus Smart on Celtics: ‘We’re just not together.’ Kyrie Irving: ‘That’s Marcus’ opinion’

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The roller coaster of a season that has been the Boston Celtics’ ride has hit a dip recently. They have lost three in a row out of the All-Star break: A close game to Milwaukee, one to lowly Chicago, and Tuesday they were blown out by Toronto. The defense that has been the cornerstone of what the Celtics do has failed them — in their last 10 games the Celtics have a bottom 10 defense in the NBA.

It’s led to a lot of soul searching… at least in most corners of the Celtics locker room. After the Toronto loss, Marcus Smart lamented that 61 games into the season the Celtics are just not on the same page as a team.

“Not being together. 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. I’m really sure that we will. I just don’t know when. But I’m sure we’re going to figure it out. Just right now it’s going slower than we expected.”

That follows the “too many mouths to feed” conventional wisdom of what has Boston as the five seed in the East.

Kyrie Irving wasn’t buying it. He was asked about Smart’s assessment of the team and… via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

“That’s Marcus’ opinion,” said Irving. “I respect it.”

A follow-up wondered if Irving shared that opinion. After a few beats of silence, a Celtics public relations staffer ended the press conference by shouting, “Thank you, Kyrie.”

Irving seems to think this is a regular-season thing, something the Celtics will be able to get past once they focus in during the playoffs.

That makes sense if the team in question has a foundation of good habits built up from this and previous seasons. The Golden State Warriors can slump right now and the NBA world will shrug because we know they can flip a switch.

Can Boston? Do they have that reserve of good habits? They made a playoff run last season, but that was with a different roster in crucial ways.

Boston has the pieces to put together a run to the NBA Finals and come out of the East. If they are anywhere near ready to do that is the real question, and one that may not be answered until April and May.

Heat: Justise Winslow out at least two more weeks

Justise Winslow
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MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat say Justise Winslow will miss at least two more weeks while recovering from a back injury.

Winslow has played only once since Dec. 4 and is slated to be out for at least the remainder of January. The team originally called Winslow’s injury a back strain, then updated the diagnosis to a bone bruise.

Winslow played off the bench in Miami’s win at Indiana on Jan. 8. The team said the back problems reappeared after that game. He has not played since.

Friday’s game in Oklahoma City is Miami’s 41st of the season and the 30th that Winslow has missed. He’s averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Heat this season.

Kevin Huerter’s 3-pointer gives Hawks first win in San Antonio in his lifetime (video)

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The Hawks beat the Spurs in San Antonio on Feb. 15, 1997.

The next year, Kevin Huerter was born.

Atlanta’s next win in San Antonio came Friday, when Huerter hit the game-winning 3-pointer in a 121-120 win.

The Hawks’ losing streak in San Antonio spanned Tim Duncan’s entire lengthy career – and continued a few seasons beyond that. The only reprieve came during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, when Atlanta didn’t visit San Antonio. So, the skid lasted 21 games.

Buddy Hield on Kings getting booed at home: ‘That’s how Sacramento fans are’

Kings guard Buddy Hield
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Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.

Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.

Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.

“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”

Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.

But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.

Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncica particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.

The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.

If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.

76ers play 6-on-5 vs. Bulls (video)

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The 76ers found one way to solve their spacing issues.

Philadelphia showed good ball movement, finding Furkan Korkmaz for an open corner 3-pointer. The catch? Korkmaz got open, because the 76ers had six players on the floor.

I love Kyle O'Quinn trying to slink off the court. He wanted to get away with it. Tobias Harris, who jogged to the bench, was practically begging to get caught.

Honestly, I’m a little surprised how quickly the Bulls noticed the violation. It’s not as if their defense scrambling is anything new.