February 15, 2019

NBA Story
By Gethin Coolbaugh, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: April 14, 2015 10:16:23 PM

Celtics pull out win over Raptors

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics didn't need a win Tuesday night to lock up a playoff berth.
They did anyway.
Forward Jae Crowder sank a fadeaway jumper over a pair of Toronto Raptors defenders from the corner with 0.8 seconds left, helping the already postseason-bound Boston Celtics squeak out a 95-93 in their regular-season home finale at TD Garden.
"(Isaiah Thomas) curled off me, right when he curled off (Tyler Zeller) sets the back screen on my man," Crowder said. "We knew they were going to get the switch but not quick enough with playing with two bigs at the time so I was able to get the corner shot."
The forward's timely shooting allowed Boston (39-42) to secure the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Celtics had already clinched a spot after a Brooklyn Nets loss Monday.
It is Boston's first postseason appearance since they traded forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in 2013 and their first without Pierce on the roster since 1994-95.
"I'm happy for the players," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before tip-off. "They've really played great the last two and a half months. We dug ourselves a hole. We're lucky to be where we are after starting the season the way we did."
Even with the playoffs in hand, Stevens wanted to make sure his players remained focused.
"We have an opportunity to compete, and when you have an opportunity to compete you compete as well as you possibly can," Stevens said.
Boston will face LeBron James and the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but before that, it has a date with the host Milwaukee Bucks in the regular season finale Wednesday.
"We got to go play Milwaukee tomorrow, try to finish off the season right," Celtics guard Evan Turner said. "Going to Cleveland we will once again have to play tough and bring the physicality; if not we've seen what they've done to us prior to the past couple times we played them."
Turner had 14 points and nine assists, and guard Avery Bradley, who sustained a left quad contusion during the game, scored 14 to lead the Celtics. Forward Brandon Bass contributed 13 points and nine rebounds, center/forward Tyler Zeller scored 12, and guard Isaiah Thomas chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Boston was limited to 38.4 percent shooting in the victory, while Toronto shot 43.8 percent.
"The way we lost tonight, yes we're disappointed, but it doesn't poo poo the season these players have put together," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
The Raptors (48-33) remain one win shy of a setting a franchise single-season record. Last season, Toronto went a franchise-best 48-34 and won the Atlantic Division for the first time since the 2006-07 season before losing to Brooklyn in a seven-game first-round playoff series.
Toronto will try to win its record 49th game at home Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets.
"I think we want it. I think we want to break the record," Raptors All-Star guard Kyle Lowry said. "I think it would be big for us. I think we wanted 50, but that's out the window right now. Just take as many wins as we possibly can get."
Lowry had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Guard Lou Williams gave Toronto a spark off the bench, knocking down 10 of 11 free throws to finish with 16 points.
"I thought overall we played well," said Toronto guard Greivis Vasquez, who had 11 points and seven assists. "They shot like, what, 39 (or) 38 percent? That's pretty good defense."
The Raptors built a 15-point lead in the first half before settling for a 53-46 halftime advantage.
The Celtics battled back to tie the game and take the lead on a pair of free throws from Zeller with 5:07 to play in the third. Boston stretched the lead to five late in the frame before Toronto pulled within 73-70 heading into the closing period.
After trading leads for most of the fourth quarter, Boston and Toronto entered the final minute tied at 89.
Thomas had his driving layup attempt blocked out of bounds with just under 40 ticks remaining. Turner took the inbounds pass on the ensuing play and hit a leaner from the corner to give the Celtics a 91-89 advantage with 35.2 seconds left.
Following a Toronto timeout, Lowry took the ball near the top of the arc and drove into the lane for a game-tying layup with 31.1 seconds to go.
Zeller's lay-in after a couple of Celtics misses on put Boston back in control, 93-91, with 14 seconds remaining.
Lowry came up big on the other end again, barreling in for another game-tying layup to make it 93-all with 10.2 left.
After Crowder's dagger, Lowry's prayer from the corner was blocked to seal the game.
NOTES: Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of Celtics' all-time leading scorer John Havlicek's iconic steal in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals, as well as Johnny Most's legendary call of the play. Havlicek was honored with a ceremony and a standing ovation at the end of the first quarter. ... After clinching a playoff spot Monday, second-year Boston coach Brad Stevens is set to make his NBA Playoffs debut. "It's nice, you answer your text messages, and you move on," Stevens said. ... Stevens didn't rest any players Tuesday, but said he will consider doing so in Wednesday's regular season finale. ... Toronto G Kyle Lowry (back) played in his third game back after a seven-game absence. "He's where we thought he was going to be," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ... F Amir Johnson (ankle) returned for Toronto after a four-game hiatus. F DeMar DeRozan (rest) did not play

All Times Eastern