After nearly beating the Milwaukee Bucks on their homecourt despite awful offensive games from both All-Star forward Jayson Tatum and veteran point guard Marcus Smart, it’s understandable that fans of the team are pointing to a number of questionable calls late in the fourth quarter of Game 3 as a reason for the loss.
And though there was indeed a likely goaltend missed and 3-point shot that should have been called instead of a simple foul before the shot on Smart in one of the game’s final plays, there are plenty of other takeaways worth reflecting on to make sense of what happened on Saturday afternoon.
Let’s start with the officiating though, given how prominent it was in the game’s outcome.
The officiating was bad
The way the playoffs have been called thus far has been an issue of contention, with consistency being among the biggest issues raised by fans.
There is a strong case to be made in the Celtics-Bucks series that Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo gets away with what would be called as fouls for most other players.
And yes, those late calls did Boston no favors towards winning the game.
There have been complaints about too many whistles and not enough, as well. And not just from Celtics fans – Bucks fans will be quick to note they got just 17 shots at the charity stripe to Boston’s 36.
The timing of the worst of the worst calls hurt the Celtics the most visibly, but if Milwaukee fans are right about even a third of the calls granted to Boston, the end of the game likely has a very different feel.
As much as it pains us to say it, the officiating may have been bad, but as is usually the case, it likely hurt both teams about equally.
The lack of ball movement and poor shot selection should be the story
That the Bucks managed to get in Boston’s head without making major adjustments is an issue of significant concern. The game was truly lost in that Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart shot early in the clock and did it often despite combining for a total of 5 assists and 10-of-25 shooting.
Al Horford had as many assists, and Robert Williams nearly so. The lack of ball movement not only hurt the team in terms of lost possessions but also helped the Bucks get out in transition as long-distance shots did not go in.
Boston was still in it despite all of the above
If this happens again for the Celtics, the series is for all intents and purposes over, but the team should also feel good about the fact that they still very nearly won the game after all the things that went wrong.
Big games from Al Horford and Derrick White off the bench nearly saved the day, and the team found a way to retake the lead after falling into a 14-point hole.
If Boston plays the way that got them where they are in the first place, trusting one another, moving the ball, going for great shots instead of good ones, and defending their brand of basketball, winning the series is not just possible – but probable .
This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook!
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