Celtics

Why did Smart ask out in 4th quarter? ‘Things were going wrong’

Why did Smart ask out in 4th quarter? ‘Things were going wrong’

WALTHAM, Mass. – We have seen Marcus Smart’s emotions get the best of him, sometimes to the detriment of both him and the Celtics.
 
But as his temper was on the cusp of boiling over, Smart did the seemingly unthinkable by a player this time of year – he asked out of the game.
 
“I decided to take myself out; things were going wrong,” Smart said after Monday’s practice. “I was making a couple of mistakes and everybody else was playing good. So, I decided to take myself out, let those guys keep going and calm myself down.”
 
Smart was on the floor to start the fourth quarter which began with the Celtics ahead, 95-80.
 
In an 11-second span, Smart turned the ball over and committed back-to-back personal fouls.
 
He would return to the floor at the 9:43 mark, which was 40 seconds after he took himself out.
 
Things continued to spiral out of control for Smart who picked up his fourth personal foul on a Bojan Bogdanovic 3-pointer that became a four-point play which cut Boston’s lead to 99-95.
 
Smart left with 7:08 to play and did not return.
 
“I know I can’t make those mistakes,” Smart said.  “Just wanted to take myself out, get myself together and cheer my team on. Those dudes were rolling and keeping it going. I didn’t want to mess up the groove. Just wanted to re-gather myself and get ready when Brad calls me back in.”
 
Smart said it wasn’t the first time he took himself out of a game.
 
“I know myself,” Smart said. “It’s better to just come out, get you a quick breather, gather yourself than to keep in there and keep getting frustrated and make the same mistakes.”
 
He’s right.
 
But that doesn’t take away from the unusual nature of his decision, one that’s even more surprising when you consider the parity that exists on this Celtics roster.
 
“Some people probably think it was a little selfish of me, to think I was mad at myself but it really wasn’t,” Smart said. “I just felt like at that moment, we were up and my plays with the two turnovers, back-to-back and fouling the three-point shooter, something we all know you’re not supposed to do and he gets the and-one and they get a rhythm.
 
Smart added, “I just felt that at that time and for the team, I wasn’t doing anything to help.”
 
When he left the game early in the fourth, Terry Rozier replaced him. When Rozier struggled to defend the taller Bogdanovic, Stevens called upon Jaylen Brown, who did a solid job defensively in addition to knocking down a few shots.
 
Brown played the final 6:09 and held Bogdanovic scoreless.


 

Smart out of Celtics' Game 6 starting lineup, Ojeleye in

Smart out of Celtics' Game 6 starting lineup, Ojeleye in

MILWAUKEE— Brad Stevens is not averse to shaking up the Boston Celtics starting lineup, regardless of where a playoff series may stand.

And as eager as it may be for some to see Marcus Smart roaming the floor with the first unit in tonight’s close-out game against Milwaukee, both Smart and Stevens shot the idea down quickly.

“We haven’t talked about (me starting),” said Smart, who returned to the lineup for Game 5 following a right thumb injury that sidelined him for almost six weeks. “We actually like our starting lineup.”

Boston inserted rookie Semi Ojeleye into the starting lineup for Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win, in place of Aron Baynes.

“Semi Ojeleye has been doing a great job on Giannis (Antetokounmpo). He matches up really well,” Smart said. “When you got somebody his size, his determination, that’s good for us. We like our matchups, the way we are to starting off the game and me coming off, bringing that energy off the bench.”

Stevens was more succinct when asked if he was considering inserting Smart into the starting lineup.

“No,” Stevens said.

While there is no mistaking the huge impact that Smart’s return for Game 5 had after missing almost six weeks with a right thumb injury, Stevens usually makes changes when there’s an area in which the Celtics need to address immediately.

In the first round of the playoffs last season against Chicago, Boston needed a jolt offensively with the first unit. 

In came Gerald Green who helped Boston win four straight over the Bulls after falling behind 2-0 in the series. 

Boston, up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, are in a much different place right now.

They come into tonight’s Game 6 matchup coming off their best defensive performance of this series.

And while Smart played a major role in that happening, Boston’s Game 5 win was a victory fueled by an across-the-board defensive effort.

Smart’s impact will be felt whether he’s starting or not.

Plus, inserting him at this point for Ojeleye or Terry Rozier, is a risk that based on where this series is and how Boston is playing, isn’t worth taking.

Rozier hasn’t been nearly as good on the road in this series as he has been at the TD Garden.

But having him in the starting lineup keeps the Bucks more honest defensively, well aware that Rozier is a better shooter and scorer than Smart.

Plus, benching Rozier at this point in the series would be a major blow to his growing confidence which is part of why he has had more strong games in his role as a starter for Kyrie Irving (left knee recovery), than weak ones.

One of the keys for Boston will be to get off to a better start, something that Smart can impact either as a starter or getting the call early off the bench.

In Boston’s Game 3 loss, Milwaukee began the game with a 16-6 run. And in Game 4, the Bucks closed out the first quarter with a 19-5 run before holding on for a two-point win.

Ultimately, Game 6 will be determined by which team does the better job down the stretch.

And for the Celtics, that usually involves Smart being on the floor.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Ojeleye gets chance to limit Giannis again in Game 6

Ojeleye gets chance to limit Giannis again in Game 6

MILWAUKEE – No matter how detailed you may want to get in dissecting how to beat the Milwaukee Bucks, it always comes back to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

A 7-foot playmaker who covers ground like a world class long jumper with pogo stick-like leaping ability, Antetokounmpo is a living, breathing mismatch the moment he steps on to the floor.

But he is human, something the Boston Celtics reminded us of in their 92-87 Game 5 win in which Antetokounmpo came one assist shy of a triple-double but only took 10 shots from the field.

“I had open shots but they weren’t my shots,” Antetokounmpo said after the Game 5 loss. “My teammates did a great job finding me … come Game 6 I gotta be more aggressive, make more plays.”

Boston’s Semi Ojeleye was inserted into the starting lineup for Game 5 and will likely stay there for tonight’s close-out game.

His role is to give Antetokounmpo a different look defensively in addition to a more versatile defender who matches up better on pick-and-roll switches than Aron Baynes has in this series.

In Game 5, mission accomplished.

Ojeleye discussed the challenges one faces when tasked with defending Antetokounmpo.

“His aggressive mindset,” Ojeleye said. “Every play, every possession, transition, he’s always looking to attack. You have to be aware of that at all times and just be ready. If he sees you relaxed, he’s going to try and take advantage of that.”

And while Ojeleye will be the first to admit that defending Antetokounmpo is a team effort and not the task of any one individual, it’s clear that he’s as good a Celtic as there is when it comes to defending Antetokounmpo. 

 “Giannis is a really hard guy to guard,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Semi has great lateral athleticism and obviously as strong as anybody in the league when he gets hit on a drive, and Giannis brings as much force on the drive as anybody in the league. He’s a hard guy to guard and he’s trying to make it as difficult as possible.”

According to NBA.com, Ojeleye has defended Antetokounmpo for 73 possessions, 40 of which came in Game 5.

Antetokounmpo has scored 22 points on 9-for-15 shooting against Ojeleye.

And in Game 5, Antetokounmpo scored seven points on 3-for-5 shooting when defended by Ojeleye.

Upon first glance, those numbers aren’t all that impressive.

But a slightly deeper dive reveals that Ojeleye defended Antetokounmpo on 40 possessions.

That means Antetokounmpo took a shot with Ojeleye defending, once every eight possessions the two were on the floor at the same time.

As Ojeleye mentioned, defending Antetokounmpo is not a one-man job. 

It is a team effort, but it’s clear thus far that Boston’s best shot at minimizing Antetokounmpo’s impact begins with Ojeleye as the team’s primary defender. 

“It’s big-time what Semi can do,” said Boston’s Marcus Morris. “We all know he can defend well. He’s finally getting a chance on one of the biggest levels and he’s coming through.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE