Celtics down but certainly not out

Since it has been well established that every NBA game carries with it a guarantee of officiating incompetence, don’t blame Dopey, Grumpy and Sleepy for the Celtics’ misfortune Saturday.

The three dwarfs botched calls for both teams. Granted, none of the botched calls hurting the Bucks is in the same zip code as the botched call on Marcus Smart’s unlaunched 3-pointer at the end. But there was nothing nefarious about it.

That brings us to the reason the Celtics ended Saturday down 2-1 In their conference semifinal series.

While granted only two free throws when it should have been three, Smart did exactly what he needed to do on the second try. He slammed the ball off the rim, creating a rebound opportunity. For whatever reason, this only works occasionally.

Since lots of NBA players execute this accidentally when trying to make foul shots, it should be much easier than it looks.

But we digress.

Smart got his rebound and missed a short fall-away on the baseline. Robert Williams got the rebound and missed a layup. Al Horford failed on a tip-in.

Al Horford made a tip-in about a tenth of a second after the clock hit 0:00.

And that really was the Celtics’ great flaw in their 103-101 loss in Game 3.

The Bucks survived long stretches in which they seemed disinterested in rebounding because the Celtics started the game cold and remained cold for the duration.

Jayson Tatum had his first stinker in the playoffs. He shot 4-for-19 from the floor. He had two rebounds and three assists.

The Celtics’ best player, their very own MVP, was awful.

How would the Bucks endure if Giannis Anteokounmpo performed at such a level?

It is reasonable to guess that they would lose. It might be strongly suggested that they would lose big.

That the Celtics were poised to steal a win on the first game in Milwaukee suggests that Boston is the better team.

The Celts need one win in Milwaukee. Game 3 presented them a prime opportunity and they muffed it.

It’s on to Game 4.

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