Marcus Smart Drops Truth Bomb on Celtics Ime Udoka: ‘He Really Just Said That’

Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Getty Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Ime Udoka has quickly developed a reputation for being a no-nonsense coach, and his Boston Celtics team is the first to attest to that.

In fairness, Udoka’s approach is clearly working. We’ve seen developmental jumps from almost every member of the roster, and the team is currently embroiled in an NBA Finals battle with the Golden State Warriors. So, the rookie head coach must be doing something right.

However, while we may have seen glimpses of Udoka holding his team accountable in the public sphere, we’re not privy to how he handles his team on the sidelines, in training and film sessions, or as part of his day-to-day.

Luckily, in a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin, Marcus Smart peeled the curtain back a little and detailed just how straightforward Udoka actually is, especially if the Celtics aren’t playing at a specific level.

“He’s said some things to us before, and you look at him like ‘dang, he really just said that. We gotta get ourselves together.’ It’s kinda funny, not at the time, but when you think about it, you’re like ‘he really told us that’…You take it, you embrace it when you’ve got a coach that’s willing to hold you accountable. Not just you, but the whole team, in the same way, that’s how you know you’re in the making of a great coach that’s trying to get somewhere special,” Smart said.

Udoka Holds Tatum Accountable

You don’t have to look far to find an example of Udoka holding his team accountable, in fact, he did so on June 10 following the Celtics’ 107-97 loss to the Warriors, as he spoke to the media about Jayson Tatum’s current struggles from the field.

“At times he’s looking for fouls. They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme so to speak, him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker… Sometimes that balance leads to taking some shots or over-penetrating when he has a clean pull-up or two. Nothing wrong with the floater, mid-range pull-up to get yourself going, especially when the crowd is sitting there at the rim,” Udoka told reporters during his post-game press conference.

In fairness, Tatum hasn’t been himself throughout the first four games of the NBA Finals, and his 8-for-23 shooting from the field on June 10 was just another example of how he’s struggled to find his rhythm against an aggressive Warriors defense.

Celtics Can Still Win a Championship

Despite Tatum’s struggles, and the team losing game four, the Celtics still have a significant chance of lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming weeks. Right now, Boston and Golden State are tied at 2-2 in the series, meaning the series now becomes a best of three.

Boston has been here before, twice actually, as they had to overcome the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat en route to the finals – and both of those series went seven games. However, this Warrior’s team ooze championship caliber, and if Boston wants to reward Udoka’s coaching style with a ring, they need to find some consistency, and fast.

“Miami is a team that we went and did it against. We’ve proven we can do it, being down two games, two elimination games to Milwaukee. That’s proof that we can do it,” Udoka told reporters after the Celtics’ June 10 loss.

Boston will be hoping to regain their stranglehold on the series against Golden State on June 13, when they face the Warriors in game five.

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