Avery Bradley (0) celebrates his game-winner against the Cavs on Friday. (USA TODAY Sports)
It’s time to start believing in the Celtics.
Avery Bradley sank a corner three at the buzzer to give the Celtics a 104-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for their eighth win in nine games.
Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 22 points, while Evan Turner filled up the score sheet, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. Bradley, Tyler Zeller, and Jared Sullinger also finished in double figures as the C’s (30-22) maintained their hold on the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
The C’s actually trailed by four with six seconds left, but Turner made a layup while being fouled. He missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs, giving the Celtics one last chance to win with 3.7 seconds left. The Celtics inbounded to Thomas, who avoided a double team and fed the ball back to Bradley in the corner. The defensive specialist let it fly as the buzzer sounded, coolly walking along the Celtics bench in complete confidence before the ball even swished to give the Celtics one of their most uplifting victories of the season.
It didn’t appear they’d have a chance after the Cavs jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, but despite struggling early in the first half, the Celtics kept the game close. LeBron James scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth, but the Celtics outscored the Cavs, 39-30 in that final frame.
The Celtics will welcome old friend Rajon Rondo to the Garden on Sunday when they host the Sacramento Kings.
For a complete box score, click here.
STUD OF THE NIGHT Bradley deserves credit for hitting the clutch shot, but the Celtics stayed in the game due to the play of Turner. In the fourth quarter, Turner made a number of plays on both offense and defense, including a block of James. He finished with a game-high +11 in 32 minutes.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: The Cleveland fans, still upset by the Kevin Love incident during last year’s playoffs, are still quite upset with Kelly Olynyk, booing him every time he touched the basketball. Olynyk did not respond well to the extra attention, finishing with two points in 12 minutes.
VINE OF THE NIGHT: The Game Winner
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: It’s probably pointless to complain about foul calls or officiating when the best player in the world is at home, but LeBron went to the line nine times in the fourth quarter. Even accepting that a superstar is going to get calls, it’s still frustrating to watch. The Celtics got some make-up calls, but it would be nice if the refs just kept their whistles to themselves.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: The Celtics needed all the points they could get and they did themselves a favor by converting 21-of-25 from the free throw line. Thomas was a perfect 11-for-11, including seven in the fourth quarter.
@ OF THE NIGHT