After bouncing back in Game 4, the Boston Celtics headed back to TD Garden with high hopes. As noted by NBC Sports Boston, teams that win Game 5 of a series tied 2-2 have gone on to win 82.2% of those series. And while things were looking good for Boston, it all fell apart in the fourth quarter.
With roughly 11 seconds left in the game, Milwaukee Bucks center Bobby Portis grabbed a rebound off of a Giannis Antetokounmpo missed free throw and muscled in a layup. This gave the Bucks the lead. And after a string of masterful plays by Jrue Holiday, the Celtics had officially blown a 14-point lead.
Point guard Marcus Smart spoke to the media after the contest, expressing the team’s mentality in the locker room:
We were hot. We’re hot. Just because we know we did it to ourselves. Nobody else. We take the blame. But now, we gotta turn around and go right back at it. We ain’t got time sulk, we ain’t got time to put our head down. It is what it is. Onto the next one.
Smart was on the wrong end of the contest’s three most important plays. He had played a great up until the final moments, but he made some crucial mistakes at the end of the game.
Smart’s Late-Game Blunders
The Celtics point guard ended the game with 15 points, four rebounds, and one assist while shooting 6-for-11 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range. However, his game will primarily be remembered for his blunders down the stretch.
After Antetokounmpo missed the free throw that would have tied the game, Smart and Jaylen Brown both went for the rebound, causing it to slip out of both of their hands. The moment was captured on Twitter by Dan Greenberg of Barstool Sports, who was dumbfounded as to how Milwaukee ended up with the ball.
Smart would have the ball in his hands on the very next play. Boston called a timeout, and Udoka drew up an inbounds play. However, something got lost in translation, and Smart drove to the bucket for a layup. That’s when Holiday rotated over for the block.
Then, after two Bucks more free throws, Smart turned the ball over on the game’s final possession. During his post-game interview, Smart gave some insight as to what happened on Boston’s botched inbounds play.
Smart Says Play Was for Jayson Tatum
When asked about his late-game layup attempt that was blocked by Holiday, Smart explained that the play was actually meant for Tatum. However, no one sprang into action fast enough. In turn, he had to make a play before the five-second count kicked in:
The play was actually, JT was supposed to come up and get it. But everybody was just standing around. And you know, we had no timeouts and there was a five-second count on the way. So, I just got open, tried to make a play. Jrue did a good job of helping. And that’s it. He made a good play.
After the play, Smart threw his hands up, motioning toward Tatum and Al Horford on the other side of the court. Horford was late setting the screen, so Derrick White didn’t have time to get the ball to Tatum.
Smart and the Celtics aren’t done yet, though. They’ll have a chance to respond on Friday in Game 6, but this time, their season will be on the line.