The Boston Celtics had the chance to tie or win the game in the final moments of the fourth quarter in Miami on Tuesday night. Instead, they turned the ball over, losing the game on a bad pass by Jayson Tatum, who got himself caught in the Heat trap to end the game.
There are two different points of views on this play: one from Tatum and the other from Joe Mazzulla.
One of Mazzulla’s coaching philosophies is to allow his team to go through the inevitable rough patches over the course of a game to better prepare them to play through adversity.
On the other hand, Tatum looked towards Mazzulla as he was bringing the ball up the court, hoping his coach would call a timeout.
Mazzulla’s reasoning for not calling a timeout at this moment was because he didn’t want to allow Miami to regroup defensively and deploy better players to force a stop on that end of the court.
“For me, I’m sitting there and saying, if we call one, they get their defensive lineup in, they may go zone, they may go man, you’re not really sure. They may blitz, they may switch, they may maintain, you’re not really sure.”
The argument can be made that if Tatum rushed to the basket and forced a foul, he would’ve ended up on the line with the potential to tie the game, but it would still allow both teams to make substitutions anyways.
Ultimately, Mazzulla liked the situation and trusted his best player to make a play.
“The absolute was we had the ball in our best player’s hands. I knew because of their offensive lineup, they were going to play this coverage. I just didn’t call the right play. I had to call a better play to get the better spacing for him to see it better.”
Tatum, who may have thought a little too much in the moment of forcing a pass cross court to Grant Williams rather than swing it to Derrick White who was open on the side, acknowledged not calling a timeout was the smart thing to do.
“It was smart for us not to call a timeout, you know, there were some guys out there that we wanted for them to keep on the floor. We didn’t want them to set up their defense during a timeout. So I think not calling a timeout was smart. Obviously it’s on me. They trust me in that situation to make the right play, regardless of being double teamed or not, I can’t let us down like that.”
Tatum and the Celtics need to do a better job in these moments, recognizing the situation and capitalizing on it. Although he had seven turnovers in this game, there was still an opportunity to win the game in the end.
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