This is not a rant about Marcus Smart taking an ill advised hero ball shot. I swear it’s not. That’s the narrative that media types are pushing but Marcus is Marcus and if you love him when he’s hustling and creating turnovers and sealing wins with rebounds then you need to still love him right now.
Love ya Marcus.
But you should have passed the ball.
This rant is actually about not getting to see a perfectly designed end of game play.
So let’s start with the sequence in question:
Look at Rozier directly after the miss:
Rozier not only wants the ball, I think he is actually expecting the ball so the play can start. He keeps looking back at Marcus for the pass. If this was just a free form get the ball and go plan he would have not looked again and again after initially not getting the ball.
So Rozier was supposed to get the ball and bring it up the wing.
But where is Kyrie?
Kyrie comes sprinting into frame on the left wing as Marcus crosses half court. He eventually arcs around Tatum towards the top of the key:
With 2.1 seconds as Marcus is dribbling (behind his back???????) you have three options and plenty of time.
Now in the designed play I’m pretty confident in guessing that Rozier and Smart are supposed to be swapped. Rozier with the ball, Marcus on the wing but nonetheless the set up is correct and with three Lakers focused on the ball the Celtics have given themselves the opportunity for a wide open look.
We know what actually happened:
And to give Marcus the benefit of the doubt he did get a decent look and the shot rimmed out so it’s not like the Celtics had some disaster situation with the game on the line. If you’ve watched any College Basketball at all then you’ve seen just what an atrocity of a final possession can really look like.
But what could have been?????
Kyrie is curling into WIDE OPEN SPACE. Yes the clock is inching down but if Marcus is passing instead of dribbling behind his back then Kyrie gets the ball with plenty of time. And even if he’s four or feet back from the three line, if he’s that wide open, well he’s hit bigger shots than a Tuesday nighter against a basement dweller.
All well. T’was all for not.
But it’s always nice to be reminded that the King of the Clipboard is manning the Celtics ship.
Coach Stevens, the Chalkboard Champ, the Picasso of the Playbook, that man can draw up one hell of a play.