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Key Moment

Clutch defense and clutch free throws. That’s what gave the Celtics their fourth win in five games Saturday night at TD Garden.

To be more precise, it was four clutch free throws, and two clutch stops. Here’s how it all went down.

With the Celtics trailing 112-110 with 43.1 seconds left, Robert Williams grabbed a defensive rebound to give Boston a chance to tie the game up. Just 12 seconds later, he found himself at the free-throw line after being fouled on a layup attempt when Jaylen Brown hit him with a pass in the paint.

Williams straddled the line with 31.0 seconds left on the clock and with the game potentially being on the line. His first attempt bounced off the front of the rim, then off the back of the rim, and through the net to make it a one-point game. His second attempt again bounced off the front of the rim – twice – before falling through the net to tie the score up at 112-112.

To be truthful, neither of those attempts looked like should have fallen through the net. But they did, and now it was on Boston’s defense to preserve an opportunity to grab a win.

Chicago opted not to call for a timeout and put the game in the hands of its best and most proven player, DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan has given the Celtics nightmares with clutch basket throughout his career, and on a night during which he scored 14 points during the fourth quarter, it felt as if another one was on the way.

It wasn’t, thanks to Jayson Tatum.

The Bulls put the ball in DeRozan’s hands and let him go one-on-one with Tatum. Boston’s two-time All-Star wing, who is known far more for his offensive prowess than his defensive abilities, stepped up to the plate and delivered during that isolation possession.

DeRozan tried to attack to his left, but Tatum beat him to his spot. DeRozan then used three crossovers to try to shake Tatum but was unsuccessful. With five seconds left on the shot clock and 12.5 seconds left in the game, DeRozan resorted to a side-step jumper – which was eerily similar to the move Tatum has become known for – and fired up a shot from 20 feet out. Tatum contested it perfectly while avoiding a foul and forced DeRozan to clank his shot off the backboard and then off the rim.

As the ball clanked away, Williams was in position to grab the rebound but was fouled from behind by Nikola Vucevic before he could haul the ball in. That play sent Williams back to the line for two potential game-winning freebies with 9.7 seconds left on the clock.

This time around, Williams’ attempts were much more of a sure thing. He stepped to the line and calmly swished both attempts to give Boston a 114-112 lead.

Boston still needed another stop following a timeout by Chicago, and it wound up getting two. First, Jaylen Brown rotated over to Vucevic and strongly challenged a 3-pointer by the big man to force a miss. The rebound bounced right into the hands of DeRozan at the left elbow, forcing Josh Richardson to react and contest another shot at the buzzer. Richardson defended the shot perfectly and forced DeRozan into an airball.

With that, the Celtics had closed out an emotional and challenging 114-112 win.

Key Player

Another game, another impressive performance by Robert Williams.

Williams, who was also our Key Player Friday night, finds himself in this spot again after notching his team-leading 13th double-double of the season. Williams scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds on the night. He threatened for a triple-double by also dishing out six assists.

Williams rounded out his box score with two blocked shots, which fell just one shy of Chicago’s team total.

And if you haven’t already read our Key Moment section, you’d better click over there to read about Williams’ clutch free-throw shooting. Had he not connected on four free throws during the final 31 seconds, Boston wouldn’t have grabbed this win.

Box Score Nuggets

  • All six Celtics who played more than 12 minutes, including all five starters, scored at least 13 points.
  • Jayson Tatum led Boston with 23 points.
  • Nikola Vucevic led the game with 27 points.
  • Robert Williams logged a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds to go along with six assists and two blocked shots.
  • Dennis Schroder led the C's with eight assists and also scored 16 points.
  • Boston scored 30 points during both the third quarter and the fourth quarter.
  • The C's outscored Chicago 58-34 in the paint.
  • Ayo Dosunmu logged a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 10 assists.
  • Chicago shot 50.6 percent from the field, 41.4 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line yet still lost.
  • Josh Richardson's 13 points off the bench fell just five shy of Chicago's entire bench total (18).

Quote of the Night

"It’s a moment everybody in this league wants and waits for. I’m just glad I made em, glad my teammates had my back and boosted my confidence."

Robert Williams on his clutch free throws

Key Player

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