After Kyrie Irving’s final shot clanked off the back of the rim Thursday night in Milwaukee, Marcus Morris immediately turned to the nearest official and started verbally flambeeing him.
In the moment, it appeared Morris might be upset Eric Bledsoe wasn’t called for a foul on Irving’s final shot attempt or was just blowing off some steam after the Boston Celtics suffered a 98-97 loss to the Bucks to open up the post-All-Star break schedule.
But, after Brad Stevens revealed in the postgame that the final play was drawn up for Morris, it’s clear why the veteran forward was steaming mad. The play Stevens drew up had Irving setting a back pick to get Morris an easy look at the rim, but as you’ll see in the video below, Bucks guard Khris Middleton gets away with basically hogtying Morris after the screen, causing the Celtics forward to fall down, forcing the C’s final play to turn into a fire drill for Irving.
Take a look (Morris and Middleton are at the bottom of the screen).
Probably shouldn’t swallow your whistle on that one.
“We were looking for Morris off of Kyrie’s down screen,” inbounder Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely. “Kyrie set a great back-screen and Morris … fell down. The dude was holding; he had been held. Once that play was done, the second option was for Kyrie. He (Irving) made a great play, got the ball up. We had a chance.”
Calling fouls in the final seconds of a close game has probably been a topic of debate since basketball’s inception. While officials are more prone to let contact go with the game on the line, it looks like Middleton should have been whistled for a foul, sending Morris to the line for what could have been the game-winning free throws.
As it stands, the Celtics leave Milwaukee at 37-22 and must regroup quickly after their loss to the Bucks. Boston has the seventh-toughest schedule in the NBA over the last third of the NBA season — with four of the C’s next six games coming against teams that are firmly in the playoff race — so they’ll have little time to sulk about the missed call.