Last night's game was a roller coaster of emotions that ended with Avery Bradley's shot hitting every part of the rim before dropping through the net to give the Celtics the win. Not one analyst gave the Celtics a fighting chance in this one and Vegas put the spread at 16.5. However, as we have seen all season, with their backs against the wall the Celtics came out fighting and were able to shock the world. The 16.5 spread makes this game the single largest upset in NBA Conference Finals history.
To answer what everyone is thinking NO THE CELTICS ARE NOT BETTER WITHOUT IT. However, they are a significantly different team. Without Thomas, the Celtics become one of, if not the best defensive teams in the league and last night showed it. Marcus Smart/Avery Bradley hounded Irving and the Celtics game plan to double team Lebron worked like a charm. Lebron was held to only 11 points on 13 shots and the Celtics lived with Love raining bombs from behind the arc. Love started the game off on fire and the Cavs were able to open up a big lead but as Brad Stevens said at half time "let's hope for the law of averages" and boy did it ever even out. After the Celtics struggled to shoot in the first half it was the Cavs turn in the second half as the Celtics held them to only 42 points and 2-17 from three.
There is one thing about Marcus Smart that is often over looked he shows up in the biggest moments of games. While the numbers say that Smart is a terrible shooter, I feel like everytime the Celtics need a big shot late in the second half of games it is Marcus Smart who hits that shot. Last night the Cavs were able to extend to a 93-87 lead and it looked as if they might pull away, but Marcus Smart drilled a pull up three pointer to bring the game back to 3. Smart also got fouled in the final minute of the game shooting a three pointer and was able to give the Celtics a 104-103 lead. Last night, Smart showed why he was drafted in the lottery by the Celtics as he showed off all kinds of potential on both ends of the court. If Smart ever consistently shoots the way he shot last night he will be an all star.
Throughout the series reporters and analysts have been crapping on Brad Stevens but you have to give him credit last night. Stevens had the faith to go to Jerebko, who has been sparingly used in the playoffs, and was able to draw up a beautiful play to get the Celtics the win.
Absolutely great game last night. The Celtics will play tomorrow night May 23 at 8:30 pm on TNT. I don't expect the Celtics to win that game but I do expect another close one and for the Celtics to find a way again in Game 5 in Boston.