As Jae Crowder hit the game winning shot from the corner, the Boston Celtics didn’t just beat the Toronto Raptors 95-93, clinching the 7th spot in the East, but also set the first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers in stone.
The Toronto Raptors, with the loss, fall behind the Chicago Bulls, which means that unless the Raptors win their final game of the season and the Bulls lose theirs, the Raptors finish fourth in the East, putting them together with the Washington Wizards in the first round while the Bulls get the slightly easier matchup of facing the Milwaukee Bucks in a best of seven series.
Three times in the final 2:27 the Toronto Raptors managed to score and tie the game after the Boston Celtics pulled ahead for a 2-point lead. With 10 seconds to go Kyle Lowry scored a layup that tied the game at 93-93, and on the following possession Evan Turner’s 3-point attempt was blocked. Tyler Zeller of all people picked up the loose ball and a timeout was called, giving the Celtics one last chance to try and win the game.
Marcus Smart inbounded the ball. Crowder, who has quickly established himself as a fan favorite in Boston, ran the route into the corner, where two players were waiting for him. Crowder didn’t flinch, and simply pulled up for the 3-pointer, falling back, slightly out of bounds, but in the air. Somehow, it went in, and the Raptors couldn’t do anything in the remaining 0.8 seconds.
It’s funny how things turn out. A team that pretty much assembled a completely new roster in less than two seasons while adding a head coach with zero NBA experience is back in the playoffs. Yes, it took one year of takings, and it’s happening in a very weak Eastern conference. However, the Celtics weren’t supposed to do this well. It just goes to show that you don’t need that blue chip draft pick to take you places. Building around the right kind of players, not necessarily the best, is a good tool for development and establishing a winning culture, only without the PR that stars come with.