Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be the first to tell you. Boston let a golden opportunity slip through its fingers Wednesday night.
The second-seeded Celtics had a chance to take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bucks at TD Garden. And things were looking great for the C’s in the fourth quarter when they held a 14-point lead with just over 10 minutes to play in the final frame.
But as Boston started to take its foot off the gas, Milwaukee went full-steam ahead.
The reigning NBA champions proceeded to go on a furious rally over the next 10 minutes of the pivotal Game 5. It all concluded with the Bucks physically and mentally dominating the Celtics in crunch time en route to a stunning 110-107 win in enemy territory.
Quite frankly, it looked like Milwaukee wanted it more than Boston when all of the cards were on the table. Marcus Smart believes that was the difference between winning and losing for the Celtics.
“It was about pride,” Smart told reporters, per The Boston Globe. “And they out-prided us with those 17 offensive rebounds. If we box out, we win the game. They’re the defending champs, they made some championship plays and now we have to respond.”
Responding won’t be easy for Boston. Smart and company will be challenged with trying to extend the series and their season Friday night at Fiserv Forum, which surely will be rocking.
Tipoff for Celtics-Bucks Game 6 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.