Accountability. It means nothing if you actually don’t talk the talk and walk the walk, so on Friday night in Boston’s final preseason game in Miami, head coach Ime Udoka made sure he used the exhibition to continue setting tone and precedence before the Celtics start playing for real on Wednesday.
Midway through the third quarter of a close game, Grant Williams got called for a moving screen for (maybe) dipping his shoulder into Kyle Lowry:
The demonstrable reaction and complaining is bad. Not hustling back on a dead ball so you can have an extra word with the ref is much worse on Udoka’s Celtics.
Bam Adebayo went coast-to-coast for an easy dunk.
"I think he did have his fourth foul... [but] when we cried about calls, they were running it out and got too many easy looks."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 16, 2021
Ime Udoka explains why he benched Grant Williams after the forward allowed a dunk by Bam Adebayo while complaining about a foul call. pic.twitter.com/EeTgiWt1uz
After the game, Udoka was asked about benching Williams, he said, “two reasons: him complaining, but also he picked up his fourth foul on that play if I remember correctly. But the main thing is I’m telling him to get back and stop worrying about the referee. Your guy is bringing it up right behind you...it’s just a learning moment. You can’t get caught up with that. You gotta play through it just like they did. They played with pace when we cried about calls. They were running out and getting too many easy looks. It’s something that we’ve talked about in camp and I’m going to keep hammering away at it until we get to a place we want to be.”
Dennis Schroder, who picked up a flagrant 1 technical foul for deliberately tripping Jimmy Butler after a miss call, echoed those sentiments. “We have to leave the refs alone and focus on our game,” Schroder said.
By all accounts, Udoka is running a tight ship so far in camp. On Thursday, the team suspended Marcus Smart for the Miami game for reportedly missing the team flight to Orlando. Even down five rotational players against the Heat, the Celtics battled through three quarters but fizzled in the end after they lost composure, a point punctuated by a Jayson Tatum technical foul just before halftime.