For those who watched the final seconds of Boston’s overtime tilt with Toronto, “what the heck is Brad Stevens doing?” certainly crossed the minds of some Celtics fans when he called a time-out with four seconds to play and once the ball was in-bounded, called another time-out that left the Celtics with just 2.6 seconds to somehow come away with a win.
Stevens drew up a play in which Isaiah Thomas was able to get a full head of steam and plowed into the lane and then lost the ball – or passed it, depending on who you ask – to Marcus Smart whose quick thinking and even quicker release led to a lay-up at the buzzer that lifted Boston to a 117-116 overtime win over the Raptors.
After the game, Stevens explained why he called a time-out right after the ball was in-bounded to Jared Sullinger.
“We knew we had a time-out when we drew up that last play,” Stevens told reporters after the win. “I didn’t want to in-bound it if our first option wasn’t open and it wasn’t open.”
But here’s where it gets kind of weird.
By the time players came back to the sideline with 2.6 seconds to play, Stevens already had the play he wanted to run drawn up.
“I never really seen that before,” said Boston’s Evan Turner. “Obviously, I’ve been around coaches that draw up great plays but his (plays) works all the time. At the end, we’ve won some games with some crazy plays. Sometimes you look at it and think this isn’t going to work and it works.”
Stevens said they were trying to go to Evan Turner but the Raptors switched and created “a worse matchup for us.”
Said Stevens: “I knew right when I saw they switched it I was going to call time-out. But Marcus (Smart) threw it in. I got it (time-out) as quickly as I could. I guess it was quick enough.”
He has had better games statistically, but you would be hard-pressed to find Smart stepping up in a bigger game since becoming a Celtic. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting which includes the game-winning lay-up as time expired.
It really didn’t matter what the Celtics did defensively against DeRozan, who absolutely torched Boston’s defense with a slew of mid-range jumpers and lay-ups. He led all scorers with 38 points on 14-for-25 shooting.
Smart deserves a lot of credit for delivering in the final moments of overtime, but it was Thomas’ scoring and the attention he drew from Toronto’s defense in those closing moments that positioned Smart for the game-winning basket. Thomas led all Celtics with 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting.
One of the league’s top sixth men, Williams finished with 27 points that included a potential game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds to play.
He continues to impact the game in multiple ways for Boston, stuffing the stat sheet in several categories seemingly all season. He finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists. Turner also had six rebounds and three steals.
The biggest surprise of the season for Boston, Zeller had yet another strong, efficient night for the Celtics. He had 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists, not to mention delivering some much-needed physical play around the rim.
It was about as close to perfection as one can play with Hansbrough making all five of his field goals and all eight of his free throws to finish with 18 points along with grabbing eight rebounds before fouling out in overtime.
Like the rest of the Celtics, he too struggled in defending DeMar DeRozan and Lou Williams. But unlike most games this season, Bradley was unable to combat those defensive struggles with offensive output. Despite being the only starter to not score in double figures (he had seven points), Bradley took the second-most shots (13) among starters with just three makes.