It’s been an up and down rookie season for Marcus Smart, but his buzzer beating layup might be the highlight for him and the Boston Celtics, as a 116-115 win over the Toronto Raptors puts them in a position to make the NBA playoffs.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 35-42, giving them 0.5 games ahead of the Miami Heat (34-42) in the race for the 8th and final postseason spot in the East. The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets are slightly behind (33-43), 1.5 games behind, also in the picture. The Brooklyn Nets wait above at 35-41, 0.5 games ahead of the Celtics.
With the Raptors, trying to hang on to their #4 seed, leading 116-115 in overtime, Isaiah Thomas went for a desperation play, which meant driving blindly towards the basket and hoping for something good to happen. At first, it didn’t; Thomas lost the ball and the Raptors only needed to pick it up and win the game. But Smart was in the right place at the right time to catch it and sink it, winning it for the Celtics.
It’s just the will, the determination. The guys on this team, we’re competitors, heavy competitors. We don’t like to lose that much, especially when we come off a night where we didn’t play that well. When he drove he committed two defenders, including mine. “Lou Williams swiped the ball)toward the area I was in and I was able to get the shot off in time.
Thomas did have a lot to do with the Celtics actually being in a position to win the game. He scored 25 points off the bench, leading Tyler Zeller (in fantastic form) with 20 points, Evan Turner with 18 on a good shooting night (rare occasion), 15 from Smart and 16 from Kelly Olynyk, with his not looking as bad as it did a few nights ago, in between losing to the Bucks.
The Celtics have now won 10 of their last 11 games on the second night of back-to-back games, following a loss to the Bucks on Friday night. The Celtics had just 2.6 seconds to try and win the game after Lou Williams hit a go-ahead 3-pointer for the Raptors. Brad Stevens initially wanted Evan Turner to be the go-to-guy on the final play, but didn’t like the matchups presented to him and called another timeout. It turned out to be more dumb luck than careful planning that won the game.
I thought it was crazy when we came to the timeout and he already had another play drawn up. Obviously what we were looking for originally wasn’t open. By the time we got to the timeout he had grabbed the board and everything was drawn up. He was a step ahead.
Kyle Lowry (back problems) and Amir Johnson didn’t play for the Raptors, who are now at 45-32 which means 1.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls (in third) and one game ahead of the Washington Wizards in fifth. DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points to lead them in the loss and Williams added 27 off the bench, but lacking Johnson on defense really hurt them down the stretch.