If this doesn’t trigger the apocalypse, nothing will. Ladies and gentlemen, last night a miracle took place in Miami. The basketball earth shook as Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green hit a highly improbable game winning three-pointer over the Miami Heat’s LeBron James to give the Celtics a 111-110 victory. Though it’s a shame the American Airlines arena has an early departure policy, the remnants of the rule-breaking crowd’s unexpected groan of confusion and disappointment was music to the ears of Celtics head coach Brad Stevens who, despite the win, looked as though he had never smiled in his life.
Needless to say the allegedly tanking Celtics had no business beating the back-to-back reigning NBA champions, much less keeping the score close. Yet after doing just that, you can’t help but wonder exactly how.
Of course, this game does come with a disclaimer. Literally everything had to go very, very right for the Celtics to win this game. Shots had to fall at the right time, and Dwyane Wade had to botch a free throw attempt. On top of that, James had a bad back. Still, there’s no way this gets chalked up as fluke for Miami. Let’s keep in mind this is a Celtics team whose offense has been flowing through Jordan Crawford, whose coach just got off a plane from Butler, who started a rookie, and whose star player hasn’t done a darn thing in the NBA since last winter. With that rough looking of a team, “LeBron’s back wasn’t 100 percent” isn’t justification for the loss.
Again, I understand that the Celtics only won because of a highly unlikely shot made by Green. And while the most obvious thing his huge shot highlights is his ability to make big plays in big situations, he would have no chance if Stevens didn’t draw up such a great play in such a tense situation. Stevens couldn’t have drawn up the play if Gerald Wallace didn’t keep fighting for a layup with seconds left in the game. Wade wouldn’t have had to even shoot those free throws if Avery Bradley didn’t have such a hot fourth quarter. Bradley’s points wouldn’t have been enough without solid bench production. The entire game was a series of irreducibly important effort-based plays that led to one unlikely shot to beat the Heat.
My point isn’t that the Celtics are going to smack around the Heat all season. Boston’s appearance in the playoffs would be a surprise to a lot of people. But the fact stands that the Celtics were just scrappy enough and had enough drive and hustle to topple the best team in the league. The thing to glean from this is that the Celtics are not playing with a losing mindset. Teams that are tanking don’t do what Boston did last night. Last night’s game caps off a three game winning streak that wouldn’t mean much had Boston not started the season 0-4. There is enough talent, smarts, and drive for the Celtics to win some games this year. Beating Miami demonstrated it nicely.