Keys to the Game
Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

Brad Stevens had his reasons. He’ll be questioned for them, but he had his reasons.

Boston, trailing by one point with 36.4 seconds remaining in the game, gained possession after LeBron James missed a free critical free throw. The Celtics coach had one timeout in the bag, but he opted let his guys play in rhythm rather than use it. Here’s why.

“We actually had a play drawn up if we would have gotten a stop to try to get to the rim,” the coach explained before diving into the play’s result. “(Rajon) Rondo was able to turn the corner and (LeBron) James did a nice job of staying with him.”

End result? Turnover.

In hindsight, which always sees 20/20, Stevens admits that his team did not execute at a high level after his decision to hold onto his timeout.

“We went a little early. We were a little rushed,” he said. “We weren’t where we were supposed to be when it all started.”

Call it a lesson learned, but the Celtics did use their final timeout 29 seconds later. Boston forced Kyrie Irving into a missed layup and grabbed the rebound with 7.0 seconds left, which led to the game’s final stoppage of play.

“Our guys, to their credit, were just fighting for the ball and they called for a timeout,” said Stevens, explaining the tense seconds following Irving’s miss. “That’s what you want to do when you don’t have forward momentum going the other way.”

Stevens drew up a play during the timeout that had multiple options. Jeff Green could have caught a lob, or the Celtics could have played in space off of a pick-and-roll. They went with the latter, but it did not result in any points.

Rondo ran a pick-and-roll at the top of the key and got Shawn Marion to switch onto him. That move prompted the C’s to leave the ball in Rondo’s hands, assuming that he’d either be able to drive to the basket for a shot or to drive and dish if the defense collapsed.

We’ll never know if that would have happened, because Rondo fumbled the ball. He regained control as time expired and was unable to get off a potential game-winning shot or pass.

In the end, Cleveland held on to win by one point. Boston had two opportunities to plug its name into that previous sentence, but it was unable to capitalize.

A couple of tough decisions led to a couple of tough plays. Just know that Stevens had his reasons.

Key Player

Brad Stevens has been asking Kelly Olynyk to shoot the ball more often. He shot it Friday night, and he shot it well.

Olynyk scored a team-best 21 points as the Celtics nearly snagged an impressive win over the visiting Cavs. The big man was extremely efficient on the night, hitting eight of his 13 shot attempts, including a 2-of-5 performance from long range.

There were other Celtics who had impressive performances – Rajon Rondo dished out 16 assists, Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green scored 19 points apiece – but none had as much of an impact as Olynyk. He finished the game as the only Celtics starter who tallied a positive plus/minus rating. Boston outscored Cleveland by nine points while he was on the court.

Olynyk also contributed in other areas. He grabbed six boards and two steals while also adding an assist and a blocked shot.

Not a bad night for the second-year center. Let’s hope we see this aggressive Olynyk more often.

Box Score Nuggets

  • LeBron James scored a game-high 41 points on 16-of-27 shooting.
  • Boston scored at least 28 points during each of the first three quarters, then tallied just 20 during the fourth.
  • No player on Boston's roster attempted more than 13 shots.
  • The contest featured 18 lead changes.
  • Kelly Olynyk led the Celtics with 21 points.
  • Jared Sullinger notched a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Cleveland made nine more free throws (28) than Boston attempted (19).
  • Neither team committed more than 14 turnovers.
  • Jeff Green also scored 19 points for the C's.
  • Kyrie Irving tallied 27 points for Cleveland, including 15 during the fourth quarter.
  • Boston scored 60 points in the paint, while Cleveland scored 56.
  • Both teams scored 10 second-chance points.
  • Brandon Bass, Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton scored 12 points apiece off of Boston's bench.
  • Kevin Love shot only 2-for-10 from the field but still notched a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Rajon Rondo tallied a game-high 16 assists, more than double the amount of any other player in the game.

Quote of the Night

You've got to play all 48 (minutes). You've got to be great all 48 against this (Cavs) team.

Brad Stevens on the Celtics failing to put together a complete game

Key Player

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