Marcus Smart Drops Truth Bomb on Celtics Ime Udoka: ‘He Really Just Said That’


Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Ime Udoka has quickly earned a reputation for being a no-nonsense coach, and his Boston Celtics team are the first to acknowledge that.

To be fair, Udoka’s approach clearly works. We’ve seen developmental leaps in almost every member of the roster, and the team is currently in an NBA Finals battle with the Golden State Warriors. So the rookie head coach must be doing something right.

While we may have seen glimpses of Udoka holding his team accountable in public, we’re not privy to how he treats his team on the sidelines, in practice and film sessions, or as part of his everyday life.

Luckily in a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Abby ChinMarcus Smart pulled back the curtain a bit and explained just how straightforward Udoka really is, especially when the Celtics aren’t playing at a certain level.

“He’s said some things to us before, and you look at him like, ‘Damn, he really just said that. We have to pull ourselves together.’ It’s kind of funny, not at the time, but when you think about it, you think, “He really told us that” … You embrace it, you embrace it when you have a coach who’s willing to take you to the to be held accountable. Not just you, but the whole team, so you know you’re looking for a great coach who’s trying to be something special.” Said Smart.

Udoka blames Tatum

You don’t have to look far to find an example of Udoka holding his team accountable. In fact, he did so on June 10 following the Celtics’ 107-97 loss to the Warriors while speaking to the media about Jayson Tatum’s current struggles off the field.

VideoMarcus Smart video drops truth bomb on Celtic’s Ime Udoka: ‘He really just said that’2022-06-11T10:23:30-04:00

“Sometimes he looks for fouls. They are a team that charges in certain games. He finds the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked out and getting wide open looks. It’s sort of the constant theme that he’s getting to the basket, being both a goalscorer and a playmaker… Sometimes that balance will result in him making a few shots or penetrating too much if he has a clean pull-up or two. There’s nothing wrong with the mid-section floating pull-up to get yourself going, especially when the crowd is sitting there on the edge,” Udoka told reporters during his post-game press conference.

In fairness, Tatum wasn’t himself in the first four games of the NBA Finals, and his 8-for-23 shooting from the field on June 10 was just another example of him struggling to find his rhythm to find against an aggressive Warriors defense.

Celtics can still win a championship

Despite Tatum’s struggles and the team’s loss in the fourth game, the Celtics still have a strong shot at lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the coming weeks. Right now, Boston and Golden State are tied 2-2 in the series, meaning the series is now a best-of-three.

Boston have been here twice before, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat en route to the Finals — and both series lasted seven games. This warrior’s team oozes championship quality, however, and if Boston is to reward Udoka’s coaching style with a ring, they’ll need to find some consistency, and fast.

“Miami is a team that we went against and made it through. We proved we can do it by losing two games, two elimination games against Milwaukee. It’s proof we can do it,” Udoka told reporters after the Celtics’ June 10 loss.

Boston hopes to regain the series stranglehold against Golden State on June 13 when they face the Warriors in game five.

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