It’s hard to play a worse minute of basketball than Marcus Smart at the end of the Celtics’ crushing 110-107 loss to the Bucks Wednesday.
During a span of 60 seconds, the overzealous point guard committed two turnovers, had a layup attempt rejected and allowed Bobby Portis to sky over him for a decisive offensive rebound. It was a brutal performance for a player who prides himself on tenacity and physicality.
The nightmare started when the clock hit 1:00. Smart, taking his sweet time, was dribbling at the top of the perimeter with the Celtics leading 105-102. Then he picked up his speed and tried to drive inside, only to be stripped by Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks quickly moved the ball up court, and just a few seconds later, Jrue Holiday nailed the game-tying three.
Smart was just way too casual with the game on the line.
Despite the costly turnover, the Celtics were still in position to win after Jayson Tatum nailed two free throws, and Antetokounmpo missed his second from the charity stripe on Milwaukee’s ensuing possession. The score was 107-106, and all the Celtics needed to do was secure the rebound. But they couldn’t. Portis reached over Smart and tipped the ball into the hoop, giving the Bucks a one-point lead with 14.6 seconds remaining.
That’s when Ime Udoka went to work, presumably scheming some brilliant play for the Celtics to run. Instead, Smart received the inbound, and rushed his shot near the right side of the rim. Holiday rejected him, and then threw the ball off Smart to secure the Bucks’ possession.
Two Pat Connaughton free throws later, it was now 110-107.
The Celtics had one last gasp in the final seconds, only for Holiday to pick Smart at half court. Game over.
Smart was a beast in the final quarter of Game 4, playing lockdown defense and putting up tough shots in the paint. But that didn’t carry over to Game 5. Unsurprisingly, Smart was oblivious to his struggles. He unnecessarily took control of the ball.
Meanwhile, Tatum and Jaylen Brown seldom touched the rock.
The Celtics’ struggles in the fourth — how do you blow a 14-point lead at home?! — started well before Smart’s turnover fest. But his poor play sealed the deal, and perhaps the series.