Though he's off to a much slower start than usual- averaging just 9.9 points on 39.6 percent shooting in a dozen games- Hayward is getting back into the swing of the season and believes his team will find their rhythm soon enough.
At the same time, the Celtics have stumbled out of the gate, going 7-6 with a still-elite defense (most nights, there have been some games on that end in the last five) but a bottom-five offense. "For us it was a conscious effort to be more aggressive and kind of play the game out as it came".
Monday night, the Bulls, who came in shooting 36.9 percent from 3-point range, went 8 of 33 from behind the arc with LaVine missing all six of his long-distance shots as the game got away.
"Coming into the season we were all expecting that we would just kind of take over", said Al Horford, who scored 10 points with eight rebounds in just 20 minutes, "and we're very unsafe". The expectations for this season are championship or bust, and Boston needs to start showing they can play with the best of them.
It's safe to say the Celtics, for the time being at least, are no longer the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, and Smart might be feeling that more than anyone else.
Jabari Parker scored 14 in the first quarter for the Bulls, but was shut out the rest of the way.
"We have to figure something out because for whatever reason we're not playing our best basketball right now", Hayward said "There's obviously a little bit of rust and sometimes you just go through those phases".
And when the young Bulls gave the Celtics even more space at the start of the third quarter, the C's responded with an 11-0 burst that started on a Horford three, continued through a Brown dunk, another Horford three, and Tatum's third 3-pointer of the night for a 62-37 lead.
"We haven't focused on, "Let's do this for the homestand", he said.
Hayward said he is open to a role change or coming off the bench as he tries to return to form.
"It's a player's dream to be done with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, " said Irving. "I just understand that for us to be special we just have to get through some challenges". We have challenges. We have barriers to get over as a team and individually.