Did the Boston Celtics Quit or Play It Smart Against the Bucks?

Jrue Holiday

Getty Did the Boston Celtics quit against the Milwaukee Bucks or play it smart?

The highly anticipated matchup between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks was a disappointment from the get-go. The prime-time meeting between the two teams was over early on Thursday, January 11, as the Bucks stormed out to a 75-38 halftime lead.

The Celtics didn’t even bother showing up after the break. Head coach Joe Mazzulla elected to sit his starters the remainder of the game and watch the Bucks come away with a shocking 135-102 victory. Was it the right move for Mazzulla and the Celtics to tank it in the second half against their Eastern Conference rivals?

The Boston Celtics Did the Right Thing Against the Bucks

It was one of those nights where things just didn’t go Boston’s way. Things got so out of hand that TNT turned away from its nationally televised game after halftime.

Boston was coming off an overtime win against the West-leading Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and then had to immediately fly to Milwaukee for the Bucks game. It was clear the Celtics just didn’t have it.

The Bucks were well-rested, having not played since Monday. The Celtics looked like a team that didn’t have its legs after the grueling victory over the Wolves. Against the Bucks, the Celtics missed 16 of their first 17 3-point attempts and dug themselves an early hole.

The Bucks went on a 25-0 run to blow the game open, and Mazzulla called off the dogs at halftime, sending in his reserves to play the entire second half.

It was a smart move by Mazzulla. Sure, it’s possible the Celtics could’ve made a remarkable run to make it a game again, but the Bucks game is just No. 38 of an 82-game regular season, and the second-year coach decided it was better to play it safe than run the risk of injury. The Celtics still have the best record in the NBA and hold a three-game lead in the East over the second-place Bucks.

Mazzulla Explained Why He Rested His Stars

The NBA has made it a point to tell teams not to sit players on nationally televised games, but Mazzulla insisted he’s looking out for his players, who were clearly gassed on the second leg of a back-to-back.

“Everything is about the players,” Mazzulla said during his postgame press conference. “As you continue to look at life from a player’s perspective, and you look at the intentions and character of your team, and a year of experience for myself. So, I trust our character. I trust our team.

“You have to look as this and say, ‘Is this a one-off, a trend? Is this something you have to be concerned about?’ When you look at stuff like that, the answer is no, no. Things like this happen, and you can actually use them as opportunities because it gives you perspective. You’re able to take a deep breath. As I said, we’re not on that side of that very often. When you are, it’s good to learn from it.”

The Celtics get back into action on Saturday when they host the Houston Rockets.

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