BOSTON – Those rumblings at the TD Garden Friday night?
It wasn’t just the fans on their feet in the final minutes of Boston’s down-to-the-wire battle with the Golden State Warriors.
It was the NBA landscape shifting like a heated glaciers in a way we have not seen all season.
The Warriors were on the ropes, plain and simple. But like true champions, they responded with a slew of tough, grind-it-out plays to escape with a 124-119 double overtime win. A driving lay-up by Draymond Green with 51 seconds to play in the second overtime appeared to be the dagger, only for Boston’s Evan Turner to come back with a lay-up to make it a one-point game again. Green finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.
A Golden State miss was followed by a mad scramble for the loose ball that resulted in Jae Crowder being called for a personal foul with 17.8 seconds to play. Shaun Livingston made both free throws. The Celtics called a time-out, looking to extend the game and their chances at pulling off the biggest upset of the NBA season.
Jae Crowder, who had 15 points, scored on a driving lay-up, only for Stephen Curry to be fouled to stop the game clock. Curry, who led all scorers with 38 points, made both free throws with 13.4 seconds to play. He also had 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Boston called another time-out, but were not as fortunate this time. A 3-point attempt by Crowder was well off the mark. The ball wound up in the hands of Andre Iguodala who iced the game with a pair of free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining.
There were so many moments in the game that jump out and leave a “if only if…” feeling in the mouth of Celtics Nation.
Leading 89-85 in the fourth quarter, Boston's David Lee misses a lay-up. Golden State scores four straight to tie the game up. There were loose balls the Celtics could not get a hold of in overtime, defensive rebound opportunities blown. There were earlier transition scoring opportunities that were broken up by Draymond Green, runner up for Defensive Player of the Year last season and a front-runner for the award this season.
And then there were the free throw misses, the kind of scoring opportunities that can’t be wasted against a team this talented, this strong.
But even with the missed shots and free throws, Boston still found themselves eye-to-eye with the champs in the closing moments.
Well before tip-off, there was a buzz in the TD Garden unlike anything we’ve seen this season. It was more like a Game 7 vibe, with fans throughout the building chanting ‘Let’s Go Cel-tics!’ throughout the fourth quarter, players like Jared Sullinger and Crowder combining to force a turnover that soon led to a 3-pointer by Isaiah Thomas.
Boston was bringing all to the floor in the closing minutes, with their emotions driving them towards what they were hoping would be arguably the most important win in the Brad Stevens era and one of the most significant in regular season NBA history.
But in the end, the Warriors (24-0) made all the plays at both ends of the floor and continue their march towards basketball immortality.