The Boston Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on May 7 in the third game of their second round playoff encounter.
A poor performance from rising star Jayson Tatum was symbolic of the Celtics not finding their best gear against the reigning champions as the team constantly struggled with the backfoot throughout the game.
Derrick White, who has struggled intermittently since joining the Celtics at the close of trade, has been one of Boston’s best players throughout the competition as he consistently pressured the rim and picked up some hits from outside the perimeter. Unfortunately, apart from Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, no other Celtics player was able to match White’s level of performance and the team’s offense stuttered as a result.
Speaking to the media on May 8, White discussed the improvements the Celtics need to make ahead of Game Four, noting that the entire team needs to improve on their collective performances if they want to tie the series before it returns to the TD garden.
“Obviously a tough game, a lot of things we looked at in the film and learned from. I feel like we haven’t really done our best the last few games, we just need to tighten up our offense, man, make sure we’re committing and seeing every possession well,” White said when asked about it was how the Celtics can improve in the fourth game.
Boston’s limitations in shooting the three-ball were well documented throughout the season and led to Brad Stevens converting Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet from two-way contracts to full-time NBA deals mid-season.
However, with none of these players likely to see the floor in the playoffs, Boston’s perimeter play has been hit-or-miss throughout the postseason. The Milwaukee Bucks are a team that dares to shoot threes, many of them, and will live off the results of that gamble, or will do so. In the first game of the Celtics series against the Bucks, they shot from deep just 18-50, giving them a 36% conversion rate.
Luckily, in game two at the TD Garden, Boston vastly outclassed shooting from the touchline, making 46.5% of his 43 three-point attempts. Unfortunately, Boston’s inability to capitalize on their chances outside the arc returned in game three as the team hit a streak with 34-worst 26.5% threes.
Sometimes a player seems to defy the aging process. We’ve seen it all season from LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, but looking home, Al Horford has been exceptional since his return to the Celtics last summer.
On May 7, in game three against Milwaukee, the veteran Big Man was one of the best players on the floor, finishing the contest with 22 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocks while shooting 57.1% from deep and 52.9% shot. out of the area.
According to the Boston Celtics’ Taylor Snow, Horford’s performance put him in the history books alongside some standout names. After his impressive performance, Horford became the 13th player over the age of 35 to record a statline of 20 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game, joining the likes of LeBron, Dirk Nowitzki and Bill Russell.
Boston will need Horford to continue producing at a high level if they are to tie the series on May 9 before returning to the TD Garden in hopes of regaining dominance in the rapidly developing battle of attrition between these two stellar teams.