Memo to Tatum, Brown: Take command

Countless New Englanders should feel nothing but gratitude for Jimmy Butler.

Butler surely was not thinking about showing mercy to anyone, particularly Celtics fans, when he launched his final 3-pointer Sunday night. It clanged off the rim, Jaylen Brown grabbed the rebound, and blood-pressures began dropping.

A second later Marcus Smart was fouled hit two free throws, and the Celtics had a four-point lead with 11 seconds left.

The Heat, who should have started their summer vacation before the long weekend, showed resolve that commands respect.

Not even these Celtics, who have an uncanny ability to make their successes hurt nearly as much as their failures, had enough time to blow this four-point lead.

So be grateful that Butler didn’t drive the wide-open lane in front of him for a game-tying score. Of course, Butler would also deserve thanks had he drilled that 3 and sent the Celtics on their somber way.

Had that game gone into overtime how many Celtics fans would have made it to the end with their sanity intact?

Neutral fans would have loved seeing an overtime or two. No NBA playoff series, at least none in recent memory, has been more compelling.

But those folks do not care a whit when Jayson Tatum and Jaylen, the Celtics’ two best players, recede into the background when crunch time arrives.

With 3:35 left Sunday night, the Celtics led by 13 points and by default, the game then belonged to Smart. And as we fully understand, Smart has this offensive delusion that, when the game is on the line, he should be stepping behind the arc and firing at will.

And the moment he senses himself open, Smart will shoot.

When ahead by 13 points with 3:35 left, the team in the lead should not even think about shooting until the 24-second clock is down to :05. If possible, let it tick for a second or two more.

That becomes impossible if the is in Smart’s hands.

Against Golden State, a team against which the Celtics seem to match up well, let the Tatum and Brown share center stage at the end.

And when Smart looks as though he has the slightest intention of sending up a wayward 3 during crunch time, send Al Horford over to swat it to Tatum or Brown.

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