ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Imagine that. A whole lot of disconnectedness of brains to bodies and David Blatt wasn’t even in the building.
Sure, Isaiah Thomas made the pass to the open man and Avery Bradley coolly buried the clutch 3-pointer out of the left corner. But you have have to hand it to the Cavaliers for the way they handed the game to Boston.
The Cavs were up by five with 18 seconds left in the game before Celtics forward Jae Crowder made a 3-pointer – his only basket – and Evan Turner scored on a layup while being fouled by J.R. Smith with four seconds to play. Turner missed his free throw but the ball went out of bounds off Cleveland’s LeBron James.
That set the stage for Bradley to give the Celtics their eighth win in the last nine games — 104-103 — with his jumper in front of the Boston bench just as the horn sounded and take the starring role in Friday night’s Horry Scale.
For those unfamiliar, the Horry Scale examines a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in November?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
One thing to get straight: The Horry Scale does not measure only a game-winning shot; the Horry Scale measures several facets of a Game-Winning Buzzer-Beater. So we’re talking about not only the shot, but also the play that creates the shot, the situation and the drama, the celebrations … basically, everything surrounding and including the shot. In short, it’s about the total package.
DIFFICULTY — When Thomas took the inbounds pass and drew the Cavs defense to him, it became a wide open look for Bradley from out of the left corner. Iman Shumpert made a half-hearted defensive lunge, but Bradley was already locked in from long range Friday night and his game-winner made him 4-for-8 from behind the arc.
GAME SITUATION — Coach Brad Stevens has his young Celtics playing hard and aggressively every night out and that’s more than anyone could have said about the Cavs in this one. They were a step and a thought slow all night. In blowing a five-point lead, the Cavs had Smith letting Turner drive the baseline and then saw big man Timofey Mozgov fumble the ensuing missed free throw out of bounds, setting up the last play and shot.
CELEBRATION — Bradley hit his shot right in front of the visiting Boston bench. He was immediately wrapped in a hug by Thomas, who delivered the pass and then danced off the floor amid the waving arms of his jubilant teammates.
GRADE — Like the Cavaliers, we’re feeling generous and giving Bradley three Horrys for turning out the lights at The Q with his winning 3-pointer.