Three points on the Celtics-Bucks series while looking back at Game 4 and ahead to Game 5 . . .
1. Three points also happens to be the number the Celtics should have somehow ended up with on their final possession. I didn’t mind who took their final (and missed) shot; Marcus Morris had a rough shooting game (4 of 14), but he’s fearless in late-game situations, and pretty much any other life situation as well.
I would have preferred trying to free him up for a winning three and a stolen victory on the road rather than an isolation back-to-the-basket 2-pointer for a tie and overtime.
Yeah, Brad Stevens said after the game that the play was designed for a Terry Rozier 3-pointer. You know what they say about the best-laid plans.
Stevens has a much-lauded and genuine knack for designing plays that uncannily lead to a good shot whenever the ball is being inbounded. The Bucks, who have such length that they sometimes look like they have 12 arms defending the court, apparently thwarted Plan A well here.
But Plan B, or C, or whatever play it was that resulted in a rushed Morris fadeaway, should have led to a better look, preferably from longer range.
I’m curious about which Celtic you wanted to see take the shot there. Jaylen Brown (34 points) and Jayson Tatum (21) might have been obvious options, but both were occasionally reckless with the ball Sunday. Rozier has hit a ton of big shots this year, but it didn’t seem like his day or his favorite arena (he was 2 of 10 from 3-point range). He wouldn’t have been my Plan A.
I don’t think there’s an obvious choice; just find the open man, right? But forced to make a choice, I’d probably rank the top five preferences this way:
■ Brown (he was 5 of 8 on 3-pointers Sunday);
■ Al Horford;
Aron Baynes teeing one up wouldn’t have been the worst secondary option, either. He seems to have that in his repertoire now.
2. I suppose Bucks coach Joe Prunty deserves credit for making several lineup changes and minutes adjustments after the two losses in Boston. Thon Maker, Matthew Dellavedova, Jabari Parker, and Malcolm Brogdon all played relevant roles in the Bucks’ two home wins after being afterthoughts or ignored altogether by their coach in Games 1 and 2.
But the more obvious question is this:
What the heck was he thinking in the first place?
In Game 1, Jason Terry, who might have been washed up before Maker was born, played more minutes than Maker, Parker, and Dellavedova combined. Maker played one minute in the first two games. Dellavedova didn’t even play in Game 1. Tony Snell played more total minutes in the first two games than Brogdon, a very polished and dependable offensive player.
It is going to be interesting to see how some of these guys fare in Boston. The Celtics already figured something out in the second half Sunday, scoring 67 points after the break.
I wouldn’t trust Eric Bledsoe if I were a Bucks fan. Parker seemed to feed off the home crowd, and perhaps his own annoyance with how little he had played in Games 1 and 2. I don’t think he’s the same in Game 5.
Maker has been the unexpected wild card, shooting 5 of 9 from 3 over the past two games after hitting 29.8 percent from that range during the regular season. I suspect he’ll return to being Thon Misser in Boston. (I can hear your groans. I’m not apologizing for that. It had to be said.)
3. All right, so I’ve got more than three items. Let’s make these quick hits.
■ Whenever this season ends, we’ll appreciate the satisfying plot twists along the way — the development of Brown and Rozier, the arrival of Tatum, the contributions from unexpected sources such as Shane Larkin.
But it will be impossible not to dwell somewhat on the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens. I’m convinced more than ever that this team would be the East’s representative in the NBA Finals with a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, even if their presence may have limited the development of some of the younger players.
■ The Celtics miss Daniel Theis’s athleticism against the Bucks. He could effectively match up with Maker and even Giannis Antetokounmpo on occasion.
■ One of Stevens’s adjustments in Game 4 was to use Semi Ojeleye as a defensive agitator. It worked for the most part, but the tradeoff is that he also has to play the other end of the court. He’s shooting 22 percent in this series after hitting 34.6 percent of his shots during the season.
■ Rozier had a tough pair of games in Milwaukee, shooting 5 of 19 and coming in at a minus-26. I would like to have seen more Larkin down the stretch Sunday, even though Rozier played better late. I’d imagine he’ll be much better back on friendly hardwood.
■ Horford played well Sunday (13 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists), but here’s the familiar refrain. He needs to shoot more, and his teammates can’t forget about him. He took just eight shots.
■ Here’s hoping agitator Marcus Smart returns to this series sooner rather than later. There are at least five Bucks that he could aggravate to distraction, and he could do it without even initiating anything resembling a McHale/Rambis moment.
■ Celtics in six. Maybe seven. But probably six.