There’s a lot to unpack from last night’s 119-112 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, but despite the Celtics coming up short in their first regular-season game, they showed that they can 100 percent compete with this team.
First things first, let’s talk about Jayson Tatum. Tatum arguably had the worst game of his career, and that’s putting it lightly. Tatum shot 2-18, and one of those shots was a tip-in by the Bucks, so he really only hit one shot last night. He was missing easy layups, open mid ranges, and everything in between.
He wasn’t playing anything like what we were used to seeing him play like before the season was suspended. He made a few nice plays on the defensive end, but that’s not what people will be talking about. He’ll bounce back and recover from his terrible shooting performance, but this shows us that if Tatum even hit three or four more shots last night, Boston wins the game. We just can’t be seeing that type of performance from Tatum when it matters.
It’s a shame that Kemba Walker was restricted to 19 minutes because he was one of the best players on the floor last night. He finished with 16 points and shot above 50% from the field for the first time since January. He looked healthy and was rolling with the team when he was on the court, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. He tried getting back into the game in the fourth, but Brad Stevens refused. It was encouraging seeing him play as well as he did regardless.
Marcus Smart was Boston’s best player last night. He was making defensive stops left and right, hitting some tough and open shots, and, most importantly, stepped up for the Celtics when they needed it the most. If Smart doesn’t put on the show that he did, Boston wasn’t in the game.
And this is a charge… but we’ll get there shortly.
Jaylen Brown started the first half as cold as he could’ve been but somehow finished with 22 points on 6-15 shooting. He went 7-9 from the free-throw line, which is spectacular coming from Brown. He wasn’t at his best last night, but he wasn’t at his worst either.
As much as I hate to see it, Brad Wanamaker had a great game. He had 14 points and 6 rebounds and was one of Boston’s best players on the court. He stepped up when Kemba was taken out of the game, so I applaud him for his performance.
Gordon Hayward also had a sneaky good game, finishing with 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. He didn’t shoot the best, but he made some big plays down the stretch and helped keep Boston in the game in the fourth quarter.
Okay, now I’m going to apologize in advance here. But now is my time to vent.
I don’t think the NBA could have made it more evident than they did last night that they are trying to make Giannis Antetokounmpo the poster boy of the NBA. He should’ve fouled out of the game on three separate occasions, but the referees couldn’t let their golden child foul out in his first game back.
The NBA was sucking on Giannis all night with missed calls, travels, and phantom calls when he was finishing at the rim. He nailed Theis below the belt, and the refs paused the game just to say there was no foul on the play. Bullshit. You’re telling me there’s no foul here??
And then, to throw the cherry on top of the sundae, Marcus Smart was called for a blocking foul when it looked like a charge on Giannis. The refs originally called it a charge, but after review, they reversed the call, which was an ultimate kick to the balls to all Celtics fans. That changed the momentum of the game, and Boston couldn’t recover. Bucks went on to win after some very, very questionable calls and no-calls from the refs.
I’m not blaming the loss on the refs because that’d be the wrong thing to do, but they played too much of a role in the Bucks winning. Giannis should’ve fouled out in the fourth, and Boston would have had the ultimate opportunity to steal the win from Milwaukee.
Boston went down early but fought back, and although Tatum had the worst game of his career, they still only lost by seven points. I’m not worried about this team in the slightest, and I think last night showed that the Celtics can easily compete with the Bucks. It’s just a shame that last night proved that whatever team goes up against the Bucks has to not only face them but the refs as well.
Boston will see Milwaukee again down the line. But next time, things will be different.
Photo: Ashley Landis, Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports