Marcus Smart couldn’t sleep after the embarrassing end to the Celtics‘ Game 5 loss, but he redeemed himself as Boston won Game 6 in Milwaukee, writes Andrew Callahan of The Boston Herald. With the Celtics trailing by a point in the closing seconds on Wednesday, Smart had his shot blocked by Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, who clinched the game seconds later by stealing the ball from Smart.
“That final minute, those final minutes, ate me alive,” Smart said. “My guys, teammates, coaches, were doing a good job of making sure that I stay as composed as I could and keep my mind right, cause I was really hurt after that. I felt like I let my team down. ‘Just be you.’ That’s just all they kept telling me. (Celtics assistant) Damon Stoudamire pulled me to the side and just told me — cause I dropped my head a couple times in those possessions — he was just, ‘I’ve never seen you do that and I just want you to not to lose confidence in yourself because we need you.’”
Instead of lying awake, Smart spent the night at the Celtics’ practice facility and regained his focus for Game 6. He scored 21 points, handed out seven assists and showed why he was this season’s Defensive Player of the Year by limiting Bucks’ shooters to 33% from the field when he was their primary defender.
“That was to be expected. We have all the confidence in the world in Smart,” Jayson Tatum said. “We knew that he was gonna come back and be the player that we needed him to be on the road in this Game 6, and he stepped up. He was big for us tonight, especially in the beginning, making the right plays.”
There’s more from Boston:
- Injured center Robert Williams has been upgraded to questionable for Game 7 on the Celtics’ injury report (Twitter link). Williams hasn’t played since suffering a bone bruise in his left knee in Game 3, and coach Ime Udoka said Williams’ pain tolerance will determine whether he’ll be active today, according to Trevor Hass of Boston.com. Udoka explained that the injury affects Williams’ mobility on certain movements, but he doesn’t believe it’s a long-term concern.
- Warriors forward Draymond Green sent out a tweet Friday night stating that Udoka doesn’t receive enough credit for the job he’s done with the Celtics. “I just watched Bucks/Celtics highlights on (ESPN’s Sports Center),” Green wrote. “They showed something about Mike Buldenholzer and then some of the Celtics players talking about the game. But, did not show Ime Udoka at all. Did he make any adjustments from game 5 to 6? Does Ime do Interviews? Just wondering???”
- The Celtics have lost twice at home to the Bucks already in this series, but they’re glad to have Game 7 in Boston, per David Brandt of The Associated Press. “It means everything,” Tatum said. “The best atmosphere in the NBA. Game 7s are the biggest and best games. Looking forward to it, truly. It’s basketball – biggest moments, biggest stage. What it boils down to is now go out there and just have fun.”