Who would have thought that a great play by the Cavaliers would help the Celtics grab a win? That’s exactly what happened Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Boston trailed 92-91 when Doc Rivers called for his final timeout with 9.2 seconds remaining in regulation. He drew up a play to get the Celtics a game-winning basket, but that play never came to fruition.
Jeff Green tossed a pass to Paul Pierce on the right wing, but as Pierce faced up on his defender, Alonzo Gee, the ball was poked out of Pierce’s hands and out of bounds with 2.1 seconds remaining. This took place right in front of Cleveland’s bench as well as in front of one of the game’s referees.
Although the play occurred in front of one of the officials (and it was clearly off of the Cavs), the referees couldn’t definitively say who touched the ball last. Thus, they chose to enact a rule that was instated on Oct. 21, 2010, which states that officials can use instant replay to determine who touched the ball last on an out of bounds call in the final two minutes of regulation or during overtime.
The officials made the necessary decision to review the play, but that decision also provided Boston with a free timeout. The C’s had been out of timeouts but this instant replay session provided Rivers with another opportunity to draw up yet another play for his team.
This time, that play worked to perfection.
Avery Bradley took the ball out of bounds in front of Cleveland’s bench and whipped a pass into Green at the top of the key. Green then used his athleticism to blow by his defender on a drive to the basket. He eventually rose up and split two Cavaliers players as he soared through the air toward the rim. He ducked the ball under opposing arms and then kissed the ball gently off of the glass as time expired.
Game over. Celtics 93, Cavaliers 92.
The fact that Gee’s great hands tipped the ball out of Pierce’s fingertips should have put the Celtics in a very tough spot, forcing them to score on an ad-lib play with 2.1 seconds remaining. Instead, the review of the play allowed Rivers, the most decorated after-timeout coach in the game, to give his guys a winning play. The rest, as they say, is now history.
Key Box Score Line
Brandon Bass may have put together his best performance of the season Wednesday night. He led the game in scoring with a season-high 22 points while hitting eight of his 14 field goal attempts. Bass also pitched in five rebounds and two assists on the night.
That box score may not overwhelm you, but Bass’ scoring and energy played a key role in the Celtics remaining in contention during the second half of the game. Eleven of his points and three of his rebounds were accumulated over the final 24 minutes of the contest. Additionally, Bass stepped up to help out on several key defensive plays.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics attempted 10 less shots than the Cavs but still managed to score more points.
- Cleveland turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 23 points for Boston.
- Paul Pierce neared a triple-double with 19 points and game highs of 10 rebounds and eight assists.
- Six Cavaliers players scored in double-figures, led by Wayne Ellington's 16 points.
- The Celtics' 28 free throw attempts doubled Cleveland's total of 14.
- Pierce also committed a game-high seven turnovers.
- Jeff Green finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
- Jordan Crawford scored 12 points off of the bench on 5-for-8 shooting.
- Pierce committed seven of Boston's 16 turnovers.
- Both teams led by at least 12 points in the game.
- The teams combined for only eight second-chance points (six by Cleveland, two by Boston).
- Green's 41-plus minutes of playing time were eight-plus minutes more than the minutes played by Wayne Ellington, who led Cleveland in that category.
Quote of the Night
I thought he was our best advantage. Paul is our best offensive player, but there are certain nights where someone else on your team has a better advantage. Doc Rivers on his decision to go to Jeff Green for the game-winning shotMore quotes >>