Last night, the game between the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors showed us again why the NBA is such an amazing league. With half a second left on the clock, OG Onunoby scored an unbelievable three-pointer to win the game: 104-103. This shot saved the Raptors’ season because now the score in the series is 2-1 for the Celtics.
However, this crazy finish couldn’t have happened if the Celtics did their job as they were supposed. Think about this: you played great in the first two games, your percentages are high, you dominate mentally, and you lead by two points with 0.5 seconds left in Game 3. What will you do?
In my opinion, you have the patience to defend and stay with your man for the last possession. You fight like crazy, and you try to, at least, defend the three-point line. Even though it’s just half a second, you have the maturity to play until the end because you know that if you have a 3-0 lead, it is over.
Instead, let’s look at what Jayson Tatum did. He was defending OG Anunoby, who ran from the right baseline to the left baseline. Tatum was too lazy to follow him, so he told Jaylen Brown to defend OG. The problem is that Brown was on Pascal Siakam, who was inside the paint. Tatum remained on the right side defending no one while Van Vleet, Siakam, and Gasol tricked their opponents, leaving Anunoby alone. Jaylen Brown made a good effort, but the English player was too quick. We also must not forget the great pass by Kyle Lowry.
Let’s look at the situation of the semifinals at this point. You had 2-0 and the chance to win Game 3 against the reigning NBA champion. Instead, you lost at the buzzer-beater, and now the score is 2-1. More importantly than that, the Toronto Raptors gained a lot of confidence and mental edge, which can be crucial considering their experience and leadership. Therefore, the series got incredibly tougher for the Celtics, who hopefully learned their lesson: Don’t be lazy!
*photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports