You want a dramatic win over the Cavs in Cleveland and at the buzzer? Avery Bradley’s got you.
AB’s buzzer-beating three capped a miracle finish in which the Celtics trailed by five with 18 seconds left, and four with seven seconds left. After a timeout, Evan Turner scored a driving layup and drew a foul. Down two, ET missed the free throw, Marcus Smart stuck his nose in for the rebound and forced the ball out of bounds off LeBron James. Celts then had one more chance, and Bradley made it pay off.
The final was 104-103, for Boston’s 11th win in their last 14 games. Isaiah Thomas led the Cs with 22 points (11-11 at the line) and Turner was amazing with 19 points (8-16 from the field), 12 rebounds and six assists.
If you knew before this game that the Celts would put up point-scoring runs such as 12-2, 10-0 and 9-0, you’d feel pretty good about their chances. The problem was, Cleveland offset those with similar runs throughout the night, including a late 16-4 burst that put them ahead by five with just 18 seconds left in the game.
Then – THE MIRACLE.
It didn’t begin that well, though. Against an elite team, the last thing you want is to start slowly and fall behind big immediately. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened as Cleveland took a 14-2 lead within the first four minutes. James and Kevin Love scored eight points each as the Cavs led 32-20 at the end of the quarter.
A 12-2 run Boston run got them back within five early in the second. It featured threes by Smart and Bradley and two hoops by Tyler Zeller. A flurry of jumpers enabled the Cavs to restore their double-digit lead, 47-35, with 5:03 until halftime. But, once again, Boston came back, this time behind some improved defense. The Cavs scored just two free throws, didn’t move the ball well and frankly looked a bit bored. The Celts closed to within six at the break, despite committing a horrible 12 first-half turnovers.
The third quarter was pivotal. Cleveland had struggled lately in the third, and it had cost them a win in their previous game. Meanwhile, the Celtics came in 5-14 when losing the third quarter this season. So it looked good when the Celtics’ surge continued after halftime. They scored the first nine points of the quarter to take their first lead, 52-49. Irving finally hit a jumper to end a Cavs’ field goal drought of 7:11.
With Boston ahead by three, Cleveland finally re-awoke. Two baskets by James and a pair of treys by JR Smith powered a 12-2 run that restored the Cavs to a nine-point edge. Cleveland led, 73-65, heading to the fourth.
And…with Cleveland up nine, the Celts ran off 10 straight behind six points from Isaiah. For a couple of minutes it was back and forth on the scoreboard as Turner and Zeller made several big-time plays apiece. Then again – the Celts rolled off nine in a row, fueled by three-point plays from both ET and Jared Sullinger.
And just when it looked like Boston was grabbing control, ahead 92-85, the Cavs came back with nine straight. Iman Shumpert and Smith hits treys and James had three FTs. Isaiah tied it with two free throws of his own, but then James got an and-one and converted to put Cleveland back up, 97-94, with 90 seconds left.
Zeller was amazing again off the bench, with 16 points in about 20 minutes.
Amir Johnson helped get the Celtics their first lead of the game with four points and six rebounds in the third quarter.
After a poor first half protecting the ball, Boston got that under control and committed just three turnovers in the second half.
Jae Crowder struggled with a bad ankle, although he hung tough and hit a huge three-pointer with eight seconds left (his only points of the night), setting the stage for the finish.
IT turned his ankle in the first quarter, was re-taped and returned in the second.
Kelly Olynyk played just 11 minutes and was totally ineffective. Booed every time he touched the ball in his first game in Cleveland since the Love shoulder incident.
Kevin Love collided with Smart and left the game with a bruised thigh in the third quarter.
ET to Zeller
Rare footage: Turner blocks LeBron and refs don’t bail him out
- In their stunning comeback, the Cs scored 39 points in the fourth quarter.
- Points in the Paint: Celtics 48 (24-47), Cavs 38 (19-37)
- Lead Changes: 11
- Times Tied: 6