Thursday, May 14, 2015

Top-5 Celtics Plays of the Year

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While Kevin Love is busy not accepting Kelly Olynyk's apology, and former C's captain Paul Pierce continues to turn the clock back in D.C. we here on Causeway Street are counting down the top Celtics plays of the 2014-15 season. In a year of uncertainty and what most believed was another trip to the draft lottery, Brad Stevens' group of young gritty ball-players not only made the playoffs as the seventh seed, but took us all on one hell of a ride in the process.

Here's a look back of some clutch plays:

January 22, 2015: Celtics 90 - Trail Blazers 89 (Evan Turner stuns the crowd in Portland)

Despite LaMarcus Aldridge not playing for the Blazers that night, it was quite the back and forth for the Celtics. The C's were looking to snap a 25-game losing streak (dating back to last season) out west and pick up their first road win of a western swing on a first night of a back-to-back. No team led by any more than five points, and it came down to the wire. With 26.7 seconds left and the Celts down 89-87, Jared Sullinger attempted a quick 3 at the top of the key only to fall short but grabbed his own rebound and decided to drive to the hoop only to loose his dribble. Not only did the forward recover the ball, he dove on to the floor to do so, only to find a wide open Evan Turner in the right corner. In an up right sitting position, Sullinger passed the ball to his teammate as Turner hit the 3-ball leaving one second on the clock. Boston went on to beat the Nuggets the following night in Denver on another clutch shot (Avery Bradley), and it was the beginning of postseason rumblings for Celtics fans after going 3-3 on the longest road trip of the season in the weeks following the trade of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green.

February 11, 2015: Celtics 89 - Hawks 88: (Turner beats the conference's best w/game winner)

The Celtics were shooting a mere 32.3 percent from the field through three quarters and down 18-points to the 43-10 Hawks. Being it was the last game before the All-Star break, one would think, it's check out time. But in a packed TD Garden, the C's rallied in the fourth quarter and shot 48 percent from the floor to make it a ball game. With 15 seconds left, Jeff Teague missed a running layup that could have put Boston away for good. Instead Evan Turner with 6.4 seconds on the clock, and the C's down 88-87, spoiled Atlanta's evening by hitting a go-ahead right handed floater and leaving 0.2 ticks left. It was the Celts only lead after being behind the entire night and it proved that things were looking up for this team with two months left in the regular season.

March 4, 2015: Celtics 85 - Jazz 84: (Zeller comes through @ the Garden against Utah)

The C's bench (48 points) kept the home team alive throughout the night, as neither team shot particularly well. The Jazz grabbed their first lead of the second half 84-83 after a Gordon Hayward jumper that was part of 9-2 run with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. Enter Brad Stevens as he drew up a play but had to come up with a second one after Marcus Smart almost did not inbound the ball in time and called another timeout. On the second attempt, the rookie found Tyler Zeller in the paint, as the big man took his time on a pump-fake and banked the layup before the buzzer sounded...Ball game! Afterwards Zeller explained how he calmly hit the game winner by saying

"I saw Gordon flying in so I shot-faked and just got the ball up..."

April 4, 2015: Celtics 117 - Raptors 116 (The rookie Smart quiets the North in overtime)

In a much needed win to get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Celtics went into the Air Canada Centre on a second night of a back-to-back and shocked the Toronto crowd. In what was probably the best all around game for the C's all season, neither team was going to let up, and they both needed an extra five minutes to decide the outcome. On nearly a botched play by Jared Sullinger at the top of the key, Brad Stevens had to call another timeout, leaving 2.6 seconds left and down 116-115 in overtime. On an Isaiah Thomas drive, where a questionable foul was not called, the ball ended up in the hands of Marcus Smart who laid it up off the backboard as time expired for the win. The victory would be Boston's first of their six-game winning streak (season-high), to end the regular season and grab the seventh seed in the East.

April 14, 2015: Celtics 95 - Raptors 93 (Crowder makes it deja-vu for Toronto fans)

Just 10 days after Marcus Smart stunned the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, Jae Crowder decided to crush Toronto fans' hearts again, this time at the TD Garden by hitting an off-balanced fallaway right corner jumper leaving 0.8 left on the clock for the game winner. The swingman was 2-of-7 on the night before that play that who Brad Stevens specifically drew it up for. With 3.1 seconds remaining, and the game tied 93-93, the shot not only won the game, but officially clinched the Celtics as the seventh seed, after they had clinched a playoff berth just 24-hours prior.

Though all these plays were pretty much buzzer beaters, each one gave Celtics fans the hope of better things to come. These young scrappy, blue-collar C's were exactly what the city of Boston needed after the rough, depressing winter (over 90 inches of snow) it went through. Which moment do you think was the best of the season?

To cast your vote for the best 2014-15 Celtics play of the season click here or click on the Causeway Street banner at the top of the page to make your selection.

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