The final minute of Sunday’s matchup between the Celtics and the Thunder was nothing short of a thriller. The entire crowd was on its feet. Both teams made critical plays. The Celtics just needed one more to be able to come out on top.
Boston had a chance to win on the final possession of the game after it inexplicably turned the ball over on an inbound play and allowed Dennis Schroder to score what in the end served as the game-winning layup.
The Celtics went to Jayson Tatum for the final shot, and he had a great matchup advantage against 6-foot Chris Paul. Tatum went to the mid-post on Paul, and after two dribbles released a fadeaway from just outside the right elbow. His shot fell short off the front of the rim, and the Celtics were unable to get a shot off after grabbing an offensive rebound.
Boston needed a game-winning shot after it gave the ball up at the other end of the court just moments earlier.
With 13.8 seconds left in the game and with the Celtics leading by one, Kemba Walker accepted an inbound pass from Marcus Smart in the backcourt and along the sideline. He caught the pass and immediately began to dribble backward toward the corner of the court in an attempt to turn the corner and force the Thunder to foul him. However, Paul played great defense and eventually combined with Schroder to trap Walker and force a turnover.
Schroder stripped the ball away from Walker as Boston’s point guard tried to get the ball out of the trap, and Schroder put home an easy layup to win the game.
Gordon Hayward returned Sunday night from a one-game absence and gave the Celtics what he’s given them all season long: great shooting and strong play across the board.
Hayward finished with a team-best 24 points against the Thunder while shooting it at a high clip from all over the court. He connected on nine of his 19 field goals, good for 47.4 percent, and four of his seven 3-point attempts (57.1 percent). He made four beautiful midrange shots to go along with his four 3-pointers. None of his buckets were scored from inside the paint.
In addition to his scoring, Hayward also provided the Celtics with five rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and a steal during his 37-plus minutes of action. This night ended on a somber note for the C’s, but at least they’re one step closer to healthy now that they have Hayward back in the lineup and playing at a high level.
Box Score Nuggets
- All five of Boston's starters scored between 11 and 24 points.
- Romeo Langford and Robert Williams each came off the bench to score six points apiece.
- Chris Paul led all scorers with 28 points, and his backup Dennis Schroder, scored 27 off the bench.
- Boston outscored OKC 36-18 in the paint.
- Paul made all 10 of his free throw attempts.
- All five of Boston's starters totaled between three and five assists.
- Gordon Hayward led the Celtics with 24 points and two blocked shots.
- Langford was a plus-17 for the Celtics in the plus/minus category.
- Marcus Smart led the game with 10 rebounds.
Quote of the Night
This is the part about the NBA: it's hard. It's also fun to look back on when you overcome it
Brad Stevens on Boston's rough patch