Marcus Smart wakes up this morning as the public enemy number one among Boston Celtics fans following his poor decision-making in the final minutes of their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, not everything is as it seems, and Smart’s mistakes are somewhat compounded by the questionable decisions of others around him. On the final sideline out-of-bounds play, Al Horford’s miscommunication with Jayson Tatum led Smart to attempt a shot at the rim, which ultimately got blocked by Jrue Holiday.
And on the game’s final possession, Jayson Tatum decided to leak out on the break rather than come and get the ball in the half-court, leading to a turnover for Boston’s veteran guard. Both decisions were made without Smart’s input, yet both put him at the disadvantage of figuring things out on the fly.
Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors has a similar outlook on the final minutes of the Celtics loss, noting how Tatum’s decision ultimately put his team at a disadvantage down the stretch.
“The problem I have with the second play is, I just felt like Marcus was driving into nothing. There was absolutely nothing over there. Jayson should have been coming to get the ball in the backcourt from Marcus Smart. As opposed to (Smart) pushing it up and then trying to get it back to Tatum and him (Tatum) trying to get open once Smart gets past the half-court line.
But Jayson should have gone and got the ball, and then gone and got the shot that he wants. Or they (Milwaukee) probably send the double team, and then he can make the play. As opposed to Marcus coming to make the play,” Green said when discussing Boston’s final possession on his Draymond Green Show podcast.
Smart Blames Lack of Pride
One of Boston’s biggest flaws throughout game five was their inability to control the defensive glass, as the Celtics gave up 17 offensive rebounds. Sure, the Bucks are the bigger team and boast an incredible amount of length in their backcourt, but allowing so many second-chance opportunities is always a surefire way to limit your chances of success.
“We beat ourselves right there. That’s the game right there. Seventeen offensive rebounds. Bobby Portis had seven and the biggest one of the night. That’s it. We can’t allow that. We’re doing our job, and we have to continue doing it. It’s a tough one, but we gotta move on,” Smart told reporters following the game.
The Celtics ended the game with a 13 rebound deficit, corralling 36 boards of their own but falling short of Milwaukee’s total of 49. The loss has heaped pressure on Boston, who now sit just one loss away from elimination and have to win two straight games if they want to progress deeper into the post-season.
Ime Udoka Sounds Off on Rebounding Woes
A coach’s job is often frustrating because you can see the areas your team is struggling with but can’t be on the court to help resolve those issues in real-time. Instead, you’re tasked with creating a detailed plan and then adjusting it on the fly, hoping your players respond to the instructions and intent.
“Offensive rebounds, that’s the story of the game, when they have 17 (rebounds) for 20 second-chance points. A large majority of those came in the second half, they only had 6 in the first half, so we were doing a good job of that. But to give up 14, especially on those specific plays where they got kick-out threes – some were long rebounds which are a little bit tougher – but, we’ve got to find bodies on those, and then the free-throw one stands out,” Udoka noted when speaking to the media following the game.
Udoka and his coaching staff will need to figure out how to limit Milwaukee’s opportunities on the offensive glass for game six, otherwise, the Celtics players will be booking their vacations far sooner than any of them had hoped.
The Celtics and Bucks will face off for the sixth time on Friday, May 13 at the Fiserv Forum, in what is a do-or-die contest for Boston as they bid to force a game seven.