The Boston Celtics were within 0.5 seconds of taking a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against defending champion Toronto Raptors.
After Raptors forward OG Anunoby made an impressive 3-pointer that rang the bell and saw Toronto escape with an impressive 104-103 victory, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown made no attempt to hide his displeasure. for allowing the Raptors to survive. – and stay in the series as a result.
“That was just a bloody disgrace at the end of the game,” Brown said. “That was terrible.
“No way should we have lost that game. I take responsibility for that. Not just that play, but a lot of the previous plays. And it happens. These are the NBA playoffs. Either you let them gain momentum or you come back and get ready to play. the next game. “
It looked like the Celtics had almost finished their quest for Toronto to defend their title after Kemba Walker made a ridiculous play to split a double team between Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and center Marc Gasol, get in the lane and throw a rebound. without looking. I passed Daniel Theis for a dunk with 0.5 seconds left to give the Celtics a 103-101 lead.
But when Toronto tried to play with Tacko Fall having replaced Walker, defending the inning pass against Kyle Lowry, there was a miscommunication between Jayson Tatum and Brown. while Anunoby ran down the baseline to the opposite corner of the basket.
Tatum thought he had alerted Brown to stay with Anunoby and ended up going to double-team VanVleet. Brown, meanwhile, had stayed with Gasol long enough in the paint. When Lowry’s pass passed over everyone to Anunoby, who was waiting at the corner for him to arrive, he had to try to fly to defend it.
But he managed to get there only after the ball left Anunoby’s hands, leaving him, and the rest of the Celtics, unable to do anything but watch the shot fall through the net when the buzzer sounded, which caused Boston players to throw their hands inward. the air in disgust, while Toronto did so in celebration of saving their season.
“Just a miscommunication [of] the coverage we were in,” Brown said. “That’s all it really is. They made a remarkable play at the end. (Anunoby) sneaked along the bottom line, and we just have to communicate better, that’s all. As a unit, that can’t happen. We went paired up and OG snuck along the baseline, didn’t recognize him early enough, and got an open look.
“We have to be better than that and we have to communicate better. With four years on, I have to be better. I can’t give up the triple at the end of the game … he made a remarkable shot, but still.
“It’s a fucking shame. Terrible. There’s no excuse for it. Not at all. It was ridiculous. I can’t take my foot off the gas at all. We have to be ready to play Game 4.”
After Boston defeated Toronto in Game 1, the final two games played out like most of those expected before the series began, with two of the NBA’s best defensive teams winning games that have come down to seconds. end.
In Game 2, it was Walker who hit the game’s biggest shots. The final two minutes to seal the victory. In Game 3, it was Walker who made the absurd pass to Theis of seemingly doing it again.
“It was a great play,” Brown said. “He did his job, got two, and found the guy open. He put two on us. It was a great play for us.
“Point five on the clock. We just needed one stop to win the damn game.”
But the Celtics didn’t get that stop. And, in the span of that half a second, they saw the opportunity to put absolute dominance in this series and allow the defending champions to have a new lease of life eluded them.
“I mean, we’re playing a really good team,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said “They’re tough, they’re smart, they’re hot on your heels. But I thought our guys really competed, they really fought.
“Both teams left everything tonight in a great game. It hurts and it hurts to lose, but we will come back and prepare for Saturday.”