Celtics get their biggest win of the year tonight, beating Cleveland by four and shrinking that lead in the Eastern Conference to three games. The Celtics played some of their best basketball and showed a national audience that they can play with Cleveland.
Boston and Cleveland played a tight game throughout. They traded leads the entire game, and it came down to clutch execution and coaching at the end. The Celtics came out on top in this one and got their first win against the Cavs this year, making their record against them 1-2.
Al Horford finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, and had a big impact defensively. Isaiah finished with 31 points, and Crowder had 17 points with 10 rebounds. Lebron had a monster game. He ended up with a triple-double with 28 points, 13, rebounds, and 10 assists, and Kyrie Irving put up 28 points.
In the second quarter, Richard Jefferson caught an alley-oop from Lebron, hung onto the rim and straddled the back of Terry Rozier’s head for some reason, so Rozier threw the ball at him and got T’d up. Cleveland was lobbying for calls all game like they always do, and I think they got so many foul calls because the refs were genuinely scared and nervous that Lebron was gonna be mean to them. Late in the second quarter, Lebron stepped on Olynyk’s shoe, rolled his ankle and the refs blew a whistle for a foul because Lebron fell down.
The Cavs were up 50-49 at the half, and the Celtics’ bench did a great job keeping up against Lebron with Isaiah on the bench. Kyrie Irving started the 3rd quarter 5 for 5, but got into some foul trouble and had to leave the game for the rest of the quarter with four fouls. The people at the Garden were all over the refs in the 3rd. The refs were looking for fouls to call on the Celtics.
Boston found themselves up by 3 at the end of the third, and it definitely felt like a playoff game at this point. There were six ties and ten lead changes in the fourth.
With two minutes left and down by 2, Isaiah drove towards the hoop, drew the entire defense towards him, and made a beautiful pass to Crowder on the wing where he hit a big 3. Cleveland scored to go back up by 1, and then Isaiah took over again. He took the ball with a little over a minute left and drove past Deron Williams, into the key, had everyone on the Cavs staring at him, and found a wide-open Avery Bradley on the wing for a huge 3.
Celts up by 2, Korver hits a huge 3 with 57 seconds left to go up by 1.
Brad Stevens takes a time-out and draws up a play for Isaiah to cycle around the floor, take the ball from Smart, and sink a DEEP three-pointer. Unbelievable shot.
The Cavs, down by 2, get the ball with 40 seconds to go. Kyrie Irving drives along the baseline, meets Horford at the rim, but pulls off an incredible reverse layup to tie the game at 99.
30 seconds to go, Isaiah draws a weak double team from Korver and Deron Williams. Korver backs off for some reason, and Isaiah blows right by Williams, who sucks. Isaiah stops at the free throw line, goes up, lets Williams bump him from behind for a foul, and nearly banks the shot in. He hits both free throws to put the Celts up by 2.
Cleveland takes possession and they get the ball to Irving on the wing. Avery Bradley shut him the fuck down. Irving couldn’t breathe, and he ended up throwing up a shot from the baseline, missing. Tristan Thompson grabbed the offensive board, and threw it out to Lebron. Lebron couldn’t get a shot up with Crowder and Isaiah all over him, but he found a wide open Deron Williams in the corner. Williams had a great look at a 3 but it rimmed out and Crowder grabbed the rebound to end the game.
Final score was 103-99. If the Celtics play their best game, they can compete with Cleveland. It will be a tougher game when the Cavs get Kevin Love back, but I wouldn’t count the Celtics out against a team that is so top-heavy and reliant on three players.
*Full game recap*