Ime Udoka: Celtics ‘complaining at times too much,’ weighs lineup tweaks ahead of Game 6

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka said he’s considering changes to his substitution patterns, but likely not to his starting roster as his team faces elimination in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics have lost two straight games to the Golden State Warriors and are now 3-2 down in the series with Game 6 scheduled for Thursday at 9:00 p.m. at Boston’s TD Garden. Golden State hasn’t lost since its roster change, benching Kevon Looney to create more favorable matchups against the Celtics reserves.

Udoka could counter that by benching center Robert Williams III and bringing him on when Looney takes the floor, but he said he’s looking more at who to field from the Celtics bench rather than making an actual lineup change.

“Apart from the last game, we really didn’t have a bad start,” said Udoka. “No matter what they did in terms of line-up, we were mostly good in the first four games to start the game. As for that, we swap Rob out pretty quick to get him back in anyway. That’s not something we look at in terms of changing the starting lineup. It’s more about who we want to use for whom, the second unit.”

Udoka got practically nothing from his bench in Game 5. Derrick White missed all four shots in 21 minutes and Grant Williams scored four points in 16 minutes. Barely able to get to the ground, Payton Pritchard missed all three shots in four minutes.

Golden State reserves overwhelmed their opponents, led by Gary Payton II (15 points), Jordan Poole (14 points) and Looney, whose personal count was limited due to foul problems, but the Warriors beat Boston by 12 points in his 17 minutes.

“I think the little ball worked for us,” Udoka said, referring to playing on the court with either Horford or Williams, but not both. “Obviously we want to get a little more out of Payton and Derrick than we did in the last game. Grant was a big part of what we did this year. We know what they’re trying to do as far as they’re substituted. We can counteract that with some cast changes that we’re looking at.”

Udoka’s other proposed change in Game 6? Leave the referees alone. Udoka received a technical foul and nearly received another from Tony Brothers while several Celtic players were noticeably upset by the 104-94 loss in Game 5 to the point that it seemed like a distraction.

“I think we complain too much at times throughout the game,” Udoka said. “The late game can’t be any different than the first, second or third quarter. Something we need to ignore and get better overall.”

The Celtics found themselves in a similar situation as before in the playoffs in that they trailed 3-2 to defending champion Bucks in the second round and went on to win the series. The stakes are higher now and Game 7 would be played in San Francisco instead of Boston, but the Celtics are taking some confidence from the familiarity of the moment.

“Always confident for us because we went through it,” said Udoka. “But we can help ourselves and play better offensively overall and not help them on the turnovers.”

(Photo: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

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