Biofreeze Keys to the Game: Celtics 116, Suns 109 (OT)
No epic Celtics comeback is complete without a clutch shot from Marcus Morris.
Two weeks ago, Boston's fearless forward knocked down a game-winning 3-pointer to complete a 16-point comeback in Oklahoma City. Thursday night, he rang the buzzer again, this time swishing an overtime-forcing dagger in Phoenix to help set up a 22-point, come-from-behind win over the Suns.
The Celtics trailed big throughout Thursday night's battle at Talking Stick Resort Arena, and found themselves facing a 14-point deficit with 3:30 left to play in the fourth quarter. However, their comeback gene kicked in late, as they went on a miraculous run, pulling within one point of the Suns on a Jaylen Brown put-back lay-up with just seven seconds remaining.
Boston was forced to foul on Phoenix's ensuing possession, and T.J. Warren did his job by knocking down both free throws to put the Suns back up, 100-97.
Then it was time for Morris to his job.
The Celtics took a timeout to advance the ball to mid-court, where Jayson Tatum took on inbounding duties. He fed Morris at the top of the 3-point arc, who then handed off to Kyrie Irving who had just streaked in from the backcourt.
Morris' man followed the ball to help double-team Irving, leaving Boston's clutch forward wide open in 3-point land for an opportunity to tie things up. Irving did the right thing by passing back to Morris, who rose up and nailed the game-tying triple with 0.3 left on the clock.
Boston would carry its momentum into overtime, escaping with a miraculous, 116-109 win, that wouldn't have been possible without Morris' cold-blooded dagger.
Thursday night's game had its fair share of ups and downs for the Celtics, but Kyrie Irving was their lone, consistent bright spot throughout.
Boston's offense struggled at the beginning of the contest with four of its starters failing to score a single point during the first half. However, Irving kept the team afloat, by pouring in 13 points before the break.
When the second half rolled around, the Celtics were ready to make their comeback, and Irving spearheaded that effort as well. He doubled his first half scoring performance with 26 points after the break, including 16 during the final eight and a half minutes of play.
On top of his game-high 39 points, Irving also corralled seven rebounds, dished out six assists and snagged a season-high-tying three steals, including one critical swipe with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter that helped lead to a fast-break layup that cut Boston's deficit down to one.
The Celtics never would have had a chance in this one if it weren't for Irving's consistent offensive effort, and they certainly wouldn't have won if it weren't for his clutch playmaking down the stretch.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kyrie Irving led the Celtics' attack with a season-high 39 points.
- Suns guard Devin Booker was right on Irving's tail with 38 in the scoring column.
- Irving was the only Celtics starter to score during the first half.
- The Celtics trailed by as many as 22 points.
- No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton had the game's only double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds).
- The C's made 31 trips to the free-throw line, while the Suns only took 19..
- Jaylen Brown scored 17 points after halftime.
- Boston won the rebounding battle, 56-42
- Al Horford had four blocks, twice as many as any other player in the game.
- Despite tying his career-low with four points, Jayson Tatum had a game-high plus-15 rating.
- The Celtics had been 0-24 all-time when trailing by 18 points on the road after one quarter.
Quote of the Night
It’s good to know that we’ve got some of that stuff we [had] last year in that locker room.
Brad Stevens, referencing the team’s never-say-die mentality.