There were a number of plays in the final minutes of the Celtics’ Game 5 loss to the Bucks that will be put under a microscope. And on most of those plays, Marcus Smart was at the center.
It was a rough stretch to close the game for the 2022 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He had two turnovers in the final minute, and was also one of two players left swatting at a potential game-winning rebound that turned into a scoreboard-flipping Bobby Portis putback.
Smart wasn’t the sole reason the Celtics lost – they were outscored 31-14 over the final 10 minutes of the game after building up a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter. However, after the game he was the one answering questions about some of the game’s most pivotal plays.
“I just think we didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” Smart said when asked to analyze what happened to the Celtics at the end of the game. “The mentality was there to go win the game, and it just fell short. Didn’t execute when we were supposed to, when it mattered most, and they did.”
When it comes to specific execution, Smart was first asked about the putback on the missed free throw.
“That’s the game right there. 17 offensive rebounds and he had seven, and the biggest one of the night so that’s it. We can’t allow that,” Smart said, before getting deeper into the play in question. “Two guys going after the ball and it just happens. It’s out of our control. [Jaylen Brown] had a ball, and me and JB run into each other and Portis is in the right spot in the right time and it lands in his lap and he just lays it up. It happens, but we shouldn’t even be in that situation to where even if he lays it up – to make it a game. We just fell apart execution-wise down the stretch and it hurt us.”
“If we box out, we win that game,” Smart said later, citing rebounding as the ‘biggest lesson’ the Celtics can take away from the loss. “They did a good job of getting their team extra shots and they hit them and they made us pay. So we’ve got to do a better job on that end and clean that up.”
Smart was also asked about the Celtics’ final offensive play of the game, which resulted in a turnover as he brought the ball up the floor with a three-point deficit.
“I didn’t see [Jrue Holiday]. The play was actually, [Jayson Tatum] was supposed to come up and get it, but everybody was just standing around, and we had no timeouts and there was a five second count on the way,” Smart explained. “I just got open, tried to make a play. Jrue did a good job of helping. That’s it, he made a good play.”
One of the vocal leaders of the team, Smart was also asked about the mood in the locker room after the game. “We were hot,” he said, “We know we did it to ourselves. Nobody else to take the blame.”
“We’ve just got to come back out and keep swinging. We’ve got to fight back, and that is what it is,” Smart said, speaking about how the team moves on from this loss for Game 6. “We don’t have time to worry about how we lost. We don’t have time to worry about ‘ah we lost and right now it hurts.’ We don’t have time for that. It hurts. It definitely hurts, but we ain’t got time to feel it. We’ve got to go onto the next one, and really it’s simple – if you’re not ready to come play next game, then don’t step on that court. That’s how you get ready and move on.”
The Celtics will move on one way or the other on Friday – a win in Game 6 moves them on to Game 7 back in Boston, while a loss would move them on to the offseason. Tip-off time is still to be announced, but pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes before the official start of the game on the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network.