Celtics’ leader needs to lead

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla admitted he should have called time out before the Celtics’ final possession of Game 4 with 18 seconds left in overtime.

Yes, he should have.

And his players should not need to be told not to fritter away 13 seconds to set up … well, it was tough to tell exactly what they wanted to set up.

Ultimately it was Marcus Smart’s jumper from just outside the arc, which left his hands as time expired.

Of course, just to rub an extra dose of salt into the wound, Smart’s shot went in.

There was no question that it was late.

And there is zero reason for anyone, regardless of how green their blood runs, to shrug it off and bemoan fate.

The Celtics have a habit of time wasting under such circumstances. When Jayson Tatum drove finally put his team back in motion he drove into the lane and seemed fully capable of lofting a short floater as the clock ticked down.

Instead, he tossed the ball to Smart, who had no time to loft a 3.


That the Celtics rallied from a 16-point deficit does not weaken the argument that they kicked away an opportunity to bring a chance to end this series at the Garden in Game 5.

Instead, they gave life to a team that is not their equal in talent – indeed, in that, they are not even in the same zip code. But the Sixers now have confidence that they can win this series.  And that was a gift that could keep on giving.

The Celtics need to get Jaylen Brown into the flow of the offense at game’s end. Note that the word “more” is not part of that suggestion. For whatever reason, Brown was completely absent at the end of fourth quarter and through the overtime. He did his damage in the first quarter and was slowly eased out of the picture.

Tatum should be commended for setting aside a horrendous shooting slump and hitting the boards and playing first-rate defense. But if he doesn’t regain his touch now, the Celtics have a potentially fatal flaw.

And if he learned nothing else Sunday, when the Celtics are down one point with five seconds left and he is in a position to end it with an itsy, bitsy floater, take it.

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