When the Boston Celtics need a miracle at Quicken Loans Arena, they call on Avery Bradley to deliver. So far, it’s worked every time.
Bradley hit the biggest shot of his career last February at the Q when he hit a game-winning three at the buzzer to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-103. Sunday night he updated “the biggest shot of his career” by rattling home the Game-3 winner as time expired in Cleveland.
Boston battled back from a 21-point second-half deficit and tied up the contest 95-95 with 5:44 remaining in the game. The Cs and Cavs traded shot for shot during the remaining five-plus minutes, and it all came down to Boston’s final possession.
With 10.7 seconds left and the shot clock off, Jonas Jerebko inbounded the ball to Marcus Smart at center court. Smart took five dribbles with LeBron James in his face, before dishing it off to Bradley, who curled around a screen set by Al Horford at the top of the arc.
Bradley caught the ball, immediately rose up and fired away with 3.3 seconds remaining. It was a rocky journey for the rock from there as it hit the rim four times before finally falling through the net with 00.1 remaining, giving Boston a 111-108 win.
Hitting the game winner at the Q was like déjà vu for Bradley, only this instance was ten times sweeter as he helped cut Boston’s Eastern Conference Finals deficit to 2-1.
Brad Stevens hinted Thursday afternoon that Jonas Jerebko could play a significant role in the Eastern Conference Finals, even after registering four consecutive DNPs.
It turns out, the coach was right.
The Celtics overcame a 21-point second-half deficit against the Cavs Sunday night, and Jerebko’s energy was the main reason why.
Jerebko was first subbed into the game at the 6:39 mark of the third quarter when Boston was trailing 77-56. From there, the Celtics closed out the frame on a 26-10 run, and the sharpshooting forward was present throughout the entire stretch.
He finished the game a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, including 2-for-2 from long range, as he tallied 10 points and five rebounds during 12:32 of play.
Jerebko’s biggest impact was his heart and physicality. He played like a man on a mission, not backing down from any shot nor any challenge on the defensive end.
Boston played like a completely different team while he was on the court, and he had a game-best plus-minus rating of plus-22 to show for it.
Box Score Nuggets
– The Celtics outscored Cleveland 55-31 during the last 18:24 of the game.
– Marcus Smart, starting in place of injured Isaiah Thomas, scored a team-high 27 points.
– Smart tied a career high with seven 3-point makes on 10 attempts.
– Kyrie Irving edged Smart for the game high in scoring with 29 points.
– Boston shot 18-of-40 (45.0 percent) from 3-point range.
– The Cavaliers shot 16-of-39 (41.0 percent) from 3-point range.
– Jae Crowder logged a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
– Cleveland attempted 36 free-throws while Boston attempted only 12.
– Jonas Jerebko tallied 10 points, five rebounds and a game-best plus-22 during just 12:32 off the bench.
– Smart and Irving tied for the game high in assists with seven apiece.
– LeBron James was held to just 11 points, six rebounds and six assists, all while turning the ball over a game-high six times.
Quote of the Night
“At the end of the day, this is about chipping away, single after single. If we play harder than them, they will let us back in this.”—Brad Stevens’ halftime speech to the Celtics, who trailed 66-50 at the break.
By Taylor C Snow for Celtics.com
First appeared on NBA.com Global