The Boston Celtics went down with a whimper Wednesday night.
A ghastly fourth quarter put the Celtics down 110-107 with 5.9 seconds to go in Game 5 of their playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. After Pat Connaughton made his second free throw, Marcus Smart inbounded the ball from the baseline to Al Horford, who gave it right back to the point guard.
As Jayson Tatum sprinted down the right side unmarked, Smart attempted to dribble through traffic, but as he jumped at center court to pass, Jrue Holiday went up and stole the ball away to close the game out and put Milwaukee up 3-2 in the series.
Many were quick to blame Smart for the ill-fated decision of attempting to weave through everyone. But offering his take on his podcast, Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green actually put the blame for the blown play on Tatum.
“The reality is (Smart) shouldn’t have had the ball in that situation. Jayson Tatum should’ve had the ball in that situation, and if not Jayson Tatum, then Jaylen Brown should have the ball in that situation,” Green said. “Jayson should have been coming to get the ball in the backcourt from Marcus Smart as opposed to pushing it up and then trying to get it back to him and him trying to get open in the frontcourt once Marcus Smart crosses the half court line.
“Jayson needs to go to the ball as opposed to – yes, he was running on the wing wide open, we all saw it, hindsight is 20/20 – but Jayson should have went and got the ball, and then bring it and go get the shot that you want. Or they probably send a double team and then he can make the play, as opposed to Marcus coming to make the play …
“That’s the issue that I have with the transition play. Marcus shouldn’t have the ball there, Jayson needs to go get the ball, bring the ball up and you get the one shot you want, even if that’s I’m about to draw two and kick it to Marcus and kick it on the wing, or I’m going to draw two and drop it off to Marcus cutting or whatever. Jayson should be making the play, and he has to learn that he has to go back and get that ball back in there in the backcourt.
“So I’m going to charge this one to JT, that’s my young fella and he’s got to learn that he’s got to go get the ball. Now what it he, 23-years-old still? He’s still learning, and I think people don’t realize that because he’s been so good since he walked into the NBA. But he’s (24)-years-old, so he’ll learn from this and the next time he’s going to go back and get that ball and then he’s going to make the play.”
To Green’s point, Tatum is very much a superstar at this point, and he’s the clear No. 1 on the Celtics. He’s built up enough faith to where, even at 24, he’s allowed to be assertive and take control in a moment like that.
Now, the Celtics’ back is against the wall as they get set for Game 6 in Milwaukee on Friday.