Celtics coach Ime Udoka said after the game he thought the officials made the wrong call on the Holiday foul, and on Sunday he reiterated that point when asked, while also stressing that the Celtics had no time to dwell on it.
“Overall, the refs have a tough job as far as that,” Udoka said. “Literally, the one play that stood out was the big one at the end. Goal [there are] things we have to play through and be better and not leave it in the hands of the ref.”
Although the league determined that the Holiday call was the proper one, the rest of the Last Two Minute report was a mess. It stated that Giannis Antetokounmpo should’ve been called for fouling Horford with 1:54 left, Jaylen Brown should have been whistled for fouling Antetokounmpo at the 1:26 mark, and Jayson Tatum should have been called for fouling Holiday with 15 seconds remaining.
Also, the report stated that Holiday should have been whistled for a five-second violation on an inbounds play with 50 seconds left, and Horford should have been called for a defensive 3-seconds infraction, resulting in a technical foul with 26 seconds to play .
The first half of Game 2 was Boston’s only dominating one over the first three games of this series, and it is no coincidence that that was when it mostly turned Antetokounmpo into an ineffective perimeter shooter in half-court sets. Since then, Antetokounmpo has thrived in transition opportunities following Celtics turnovers and misses. In Game 3 on Saturday, 13 of his 16 made field goals came in the paint.
“We gambled at times and gave him open driving lanes,” Udoka said. “So we could be better as far as that. But keeping him off balance and giving him different matchups has worked well, and the main thing, honestly, is making him score in the half-court.”
Testing his patience
Tatum scuffled through one of the worst playoff performances of his career on Saturday. He was 4 for 19 from the field, with 10 points, 1 rebound, 3 turnovers, and 3 assists in 41 minutes, 20 seconds.
Tatum is no stranger to double-teams, but Udoka acknowledged that the Bucks’ physicality has caused some issues for the All-Star forward. He thinks the team can do a better job of setting clean, solid screens for Tatum to create some space, but Tatum also passed up some open looks.
“He also has to be patient and set his man up and use the screen,” Udoka said. “So, it’s a full team thing. It’s not on any one player to free him up, especially how they’re guarding him.”
Tatum is shooting just 35 percent from the field in this series.
Derrick White’s scoring burst was one encouraging part of Saturday’s loss for the Celtics. The guard has struggled mightily with his shooting since being acquired from the Spurs in February, but in Game 3 he connected on 2 of 3 3-pointers, attempted 8 free throws and scored 14 points, his highest total since tallying 19 in an April 7 win over the Bucks.
“[The Bucks] are not leaving Jayson and Jaylen’s body,” Udoka said. “It presents opportunities to get downhill and get to the basket, which he did, and got to the free-throw line. They’re going to crowd the paint and those open shots are going to be there. . .He was aggressive.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.