Keys to the Game

Keys to the Game: Celtics 87, Nets 85

Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

You want winning plays? The Celtics gave you three of them Saturday night – all in a span of just 30 seconds.

Jayson Tatum made the first winning play when he took a pass along the right sideline from Kyrie Irving, ripped through and past his defender and drove along the baseline for a monster dunk with 1:16 left in the game. That bucket put Boston on top 84-83.

The next play came at the defensive end of the court, with Semi Ojeleye stepping up for the C’s. Ojeleye switched onto Spencer Dinwiddie about 35 feet from the basket, and Dinwiddie, Brooklyn’s starting point guard, believed he had a clear advantage against Ojeleye, a forward.

He was wrong.

Dinwiddie attempted to take Ojeleye off the dribble, but Ojeleye stuck with the point guard every step of the way. Dinwiddie wound up tossing up a prayer of a shot with his right hand as he uncontrollably plowed toward the baseline along the left side of the lane. Ojeleye challenged the shot, which came up short, and the Celtics took the ball the other way in transition.

In a rare occurrence, Kyrie Irving made a poor decision just seconds later. He forced up a transition layup between three defenders and the shot missed high off the backboard, coming nowhere near the rim. Irving, however, didn’t give up on the moment, and he came through with a clutch winning play in the following moments.

Boston’s All-Star point guard timed his jump perfectly after his miss, as he rose up with his left hand and stole the rebound away from 6-foot-8 forward DeMarre Carroll. Carroll tumbled to the floor, and Irving quickly tossed a pass out to Tatum, who was standing unguarded in the left corner of the court.


Tatum canned the 3-pointer with 45.7 seconds left in the game to push Boston ahead 87-83. The Celtics did not score again, but they didn’t need to, as they held on for the 87-85 win.

Tatum, Ojeleye and Irving came up clutch when the Celtics needed them most, and Boston’s defense as a whole forced five misses during the final 7.5 seconds to close out the victory.

That, folks, is how you make winning plays.

Key Player

Jayson Tatum made a clutch 3-pointer Saturday night, one that wound up deciding the contest, but that’s not all he did.

No, he did basically everything else.

Tatum put together the best all-around game of his young and impressive career during Boston’s sixth straight victory. He stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points (seven of which were scored during the fourth quarter), six rebounds, a career-high six blocks, and three steals.

Hold on – six blocks? That’s right, the rookie forward swatted away six of Brooklyn’s field goal attempts, doubling the next-highest block total from any other individual player (three, by Tyler Zeller).

While taking all of this into consideration, it’s no surprise that the Celtics were far better while Tatum was on the floor. They outscored Brooklyn by 10 points during his 32-plus minutes of playing time, and that plus/minus rating was the best in the game.

The rookie just keeps on impressing, and the Celtics just keep on winning.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Marcus Smart scored in double-figures for the third straight game, tallying 11 points off the bench.
  • Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 21 points.
  • Brooklyn outscored Boston in the paint, 48-38.
  • Both teams shot worse than 38 percent from the field.
  • Jayson Tatum blocked a career-high six shots.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie led Brooklyn with 20 points.
  • Boston was outrebounded 55-444.
  • Smart and Tatum each grabbed three steals, while Brooklyn's entire team grabbed only two.
  • The Celtics were able to win the game thanks in large part to their low turnover total of four. The Nets, meanwhile, committed 16 turnovers.
  • The Nets shot just 6-for-31 (19.4 percent) from long distance.
  • Jahlil Okafor led all reserves with 12 points.
  • Boston shot 37.8 percent from the field, 27.8 percent from 3-point range, and 53.3 percent from the free-throw line yet still found a way to win.
  • Daniel Theis came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds for the C's.
  • Joe Harris, also a reserve, led all players with 12 boards.

Quote of the Night

It felt like the buzzer was never going to go off ... Those moments are precious. If one person is out of line, you lose the game.

Marcus Smart on the Celtics forcing five misses in the final 7.5 seconds of the game.

Key Player