Celtics too damn nice vs. Bucks - need Marcus Smart-like intensity ASAP
Don't get me wrong here. I am not saying that Marcus Smart would be the total answer to the travesty that occurred in Boston's 116-92 loss to the Bucks last night. I am also not saying he should return to the team until he is cleared to play. If it was up to him, Marcus would have been in that game last night.
The Celtics didn't just take a few plays off against Milwaukee. They took the whole game off. When have you ever seen Smart do that? There was a very-real lack of intensity and aggression on Boston's part. They had only 15 personal fouls called on them compared to 27 by Milwaukee. The Celtics committed 16 turnovers to the Bucks nine. A total of 17.2% of Milwaukee's hoops came off Boston turnovers compared to 9.8% for Boston.
The Bucks had eight steals. Boston had three. These are only numbers, but they partially define what happened. You simply cannot take a play off in the post-season, let alone doing so the whole game. Boston just dug a hole that was too deep to climb out of.
When Marcus Smart is in a game, even in pre-season, he never takes a play off. He is into every one. That is a catalyst for the rest of the team to step up the aggression. They did not have him last night, and no one on the team took over that role. Until Marcus is back, someone needs to take on that role.
When I wrote about a possible return by Marcus, I indicated Chris Paul returned to play exactly 37 days after having the same type of UCL surgical repair. The timeline is usually 6-8 weeks, but 37 days would put Smart back on the court on April 22nd, which happens to be tomorrow.
That certainly doesn't mean that he will play, or even should play, but it is possible. Everyone heals at a different rate, and Marcus' game doesn't lend itself to avoiding injuries. He plays all-out all of the time. Read what the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn thought about the one-sided loss:
The whole point of a Game 3 on the road when you’re up 2-0 is to expect the trailing team to make a statement. The Celtics needed to be more disciplined. They needed to defend better. They needed to take care of the ball, even if it meant refraining from making hero plays.
The Celtics were too darn nice all night, and they paid for their kindness with a blowout loss.
The Celtics need to make some type of definitive statement Sunday because they played nice Friday, cooperating fully in allowing Milwaukee right back into this series.
Boston's next chance to rectify what occurred in game three will be Sunday at 1:00 P.M. I doubt we will see the same Boston response that we saw Friday night. I don't think they will be nice in this next one!
Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC
Photo via Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe via Getty Images