Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
The Celtics are proving that if you come to TD Garden to watch them play, you’re going to have a ton of fun.
Wednesday night was exhilarating.
Boston hosted the third-best team in the league, the Memphis Grizzlies, on a weeknight that oftentimes wouldn’t draw a spirited crowd. This crowd was rambunctious and ready to go.
The C’s went toe-to-toe with the West’s second-best team all night long. Neither team led by more than eight points at any moment of the game, which featured 15 ties and 14 lead changes. The most critical lead change occurred with 51.6 seconds left on the clock.
Brad Stevens called for a timeout with 52.2 seconds left after Zach Randolph put the Grizzlies on top 90-88. No one - other than Stevens, of course - could have predicted what would happen next.
Boston’s players took the floor to run an after-timeout play that Stevens had drawn up. Evan Turner was the inbound passer, with Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk running the action on the floor.
The wheels began to turn as Crowder curled from the top of the key through the paint and into the left corner. Simultaneously, Smart curled from the left corner and around the left elbow, where Bradley had been standing. Smart curled tight off of Bradley’s body, which forced his defender, Courtney Lee, to trail from behind.
Bradley’s undercover screen – he literally just stood outside the left elbow, acting as if he had no key role in the play – opened up a passing lane from Turner to Smart. Turner eyed that lane and dropped a beautiful lob pass over the defense and into Smart’s hands about five feet from the basket.
This is where Smart’s elite instincts kicked in. He jumped into the air to catch the ball and, all in one motion, absorbed contact from Lee while putting up a right-handed layup off the glass. The shot fell through the basket with 51.6 seconds left on the clock, and Smart was awarded a free throw thanks to the contact from Lee. The rookie nailed the freebie to put the C’s on top 91-90.
The other key plays of the night sandwiched Smart’s impressive three-point play. Crowder drilled a critical 3-pointer at the 1:40 mark to make it 88-88, Tyler Zeller hit two free throws with 39.8 seconds left to make it 93-90, and Bradley canned a face-up jumper over Marc Gasol to seal the win with 7.9 seconds left.
Do you know what those types of plays are called in the NBA? “Winning plays.” The Celtics made four of them in the final 100 seconds of action Wednesday night to upend a Grizzlies team that is in the hunt for a title.
Avery Bradley hadn’t played in a week. That didn’t seem to matter much now, did it?
Boston’s starting shooting guard returned in fashion Wednesday night against Memphis. Not only did he lead the Celtics in scoring, he also drilled the game-clinching shot during crunch time.
Boston led 93-92 with 29 seconds remaining after Jeff Green made a layup for Memphis. The Grizzlies decided not to foul, putting the onus on Boston to make a basket for a comfortable lead.
Bradley provided that bucket with 7.9 seconds left on the clock. His eighth and final basket of the night came over the outstretched arms of 7-foot-1 All-Star center Marc Gasol. Bradley caught Gasol on a switch, squared him up and elevated on a 21-foot, straight-away jumper. The shot was a no-doubter.
“As soon as it left my hand,” Bradley said after the game, “I knew it was going in.”
Bradley finished the contest with a team-high 17 points. He made eight of his 17 field goal attempts, including a 7-of-9 showing from inside the arc. He was one of four Celtics, along with Evan Turner, Kelly Olynyk and Gigi Datome, to finish with a positive plus/minus rating.
As is customary in this spot, Bradley also contributed across the rest of the box score. He tied for the game-high in rebounds among backcourt players with five boards and also provided two assists and two steals.
The Celtics needed this effort against Memphis, especially considering that they played without their leading scorer Isaiah Thomas. It’s almost a certainty that Memphis, which entered the contest as the league’s best defense from a scoring perspective, would have completely shut Boston down had Bradley not shot the ball well. And who knows what would have happened if Bradley misfired on that critical shot in the final seconds of the game.
That time off sure didn’t hurt Bradley, did it?
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston's bench outscored Memphis' by a count of 45-31.
- Memphis scored 50 points in the paint.
- The Celtics outscored the Grizzlies during three of the game's four quarters.
- Avery Bradley led the Celtics in scoring with 17 points.
- Both teams made 13 free throws.
- Memphis shot a perfect 13-for-13 from the free-throw line.
- Mike Conley scored a game-high 20 points.
- Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, who combined for 48 points and 24 rebounds against Boston in November, totaled just 23 points and 15 rebounds during this contest.
- Boston had four players score between 12 and 17 points.
- Evan Turner dished out a game-high seven assists.
- Kelly Olynyk notched his best performance since returning from an ankle sprain, scoring 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
- Tyler Zeller scored 12 points and led the C's in rebounding with nine boards.
- Neither team led by more than eight points all game long.
- Memphis' scoring increased during each quarter, from 18 to 21 to 24 to 29.
- Former Celtic Tony Allen came off of the Grizzlies bench to score 16 points.
Quote of the Night
it starts with Brad. He’s calling the right plays and he’s slowing us down. He’s giving us that confidence to be able to go out there and make plays. To me the biggest play of the game was [Evan Turner’s] pass. He told Evan, ‘If the pass is open, throw it.’ And that’s what Evan did for us.
Avery Bradley on Brad Stevens' positive coaching angle.