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The Read & React: darkest hour is just before the dawn

Like a Bergman movie, the Celtics watched their own funeral last night.

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

efense (Jeff Clark): We keep waiting for this team to regain their defensive form from a year ago. It isn't happening. Blame injuries all you want, but no matter who's been in the rotation, the team has struggled on defense all season long. This is their new identity. A team that spreads the floor, relies heavily on their All Star point guard, and tries to outscore their opponents.

We'll have to do some deep dives on what is different about this team from last year's version, but a lot of it has to do with fewer forced turnovers. They don't relentlessly rip balls out of opponents' hands anymore. Last year they defended as if it was the most important thing in the world (in part because it was). This year they score more so maybe they don't feel like they have to defend as much.

We'll find out in the playoffs just how much they've forgotten about defense because that will determine how far they can go.

The edge (Keith Smith): My take on what is different is that they don't play with any sort of edge anymore. Last two years they were scrappy and fighters. Now, they don't really do that anymore. Occasionally Smart or Crowder will, but it feels forced.

It feels like they now play like they are good team that can get away with half effort, instead of being a not so great team that elevates their play with a supreme effort.

All I really know is that this team, outside of IT's outbursts in the 4th, isn't nearly as fun to watch as the last two teams, despite the better record. And that makes me sad.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

(Bill Sy): Before you listen to the Sports Hub or Minihane or worse, read some Twitter rant from Tanguay tearing Marcus Smart apart this morning, know that Marcus Smart is a warrior for this team and yes, maybe he overreacted, but it’s only because he wants to win so so bad. Here’s what happened: late in the game, with the Celtics down 14 and only two and a half minutes left, Marcus Smart tried to check back into the game, because you know Marcus, he’ll ride ‘til he dies. Here’s ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg on the timeline:

Here’s what it looked like live:

Immediately after the game, the hot takes started coming in. CSNNE’s and The Vertical’s Chris Mannix:

And then Marcus tweeted out an apology:

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Maybe I’m just looking for a silver lining in a dud of a game during a three game losing streak, but I thought Smart’s outburst on the sidelines was the only highlight of the game. In an all around feckless effort by the entire team, Smart showed some fire.

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