Move over, Doug Flutie, last night the Boston Celtics produced their own version of the Miracle in Miami with their galvanizing victory over the Miami Heat. With only 0.6 seconds left on the clock, coach Brad Stevens composed a brilliant ATO play for Jeff Green, freeing him to sink a game winning three-pointer.
For this edition of ATO Review, I'm going to go in-depth and analyze the play Stevens arranged, how the Celtics executed it to perfection, and how a crucial mistake by LeBron James contributed to the play's final result. If you haven't seen the play already, here it is. I know I can't see it enough:
Down two points with less than one second on the clock, Boston lines up in a traditional box set, which is something coach Stevens has utilized frequently this year. This setup is extremely flexible and allows for a number of different plays to be run. In this situation, the play would have to be executed to perfection for it to come close to working.
On the floor for the Celtics were three shooters, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, and Jordan Crawford; one screener, Kelly Olynyk; and the inbounder, Gerald Wallace.
As Gerald Wallace is given the ball, both Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley begin to create some action underneath the rim. Concurrently, Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk start to ease down into the paint. This collective movement is used to create congestion and confusion inside, which later expands into spacing on the outside.
At this point I thought the play was designed for one of the two guards to receive the pass; and I know LeBron James thought so too, as you'll see soon.
The reason for this movement was to create the illusion that Kelly Olynyk was setting a screen to spring Jordan Crawford loose for three, when in reality, he was preparing to block Chris Bosh off from the corner.
Next, Crawford clears out as Green times his release through Olynyk's screen. Wallace also throws a subtle pump fake, possibly intended to draw the attention of LeBron James.
The issue for LeBron is that he pays absolutely no attention to his man, Jeff Green. For a little over one second, he looks in the direction of Crawford and Wallace, thinking the ball is going that way. Look at the image below, and you'll see that LeBron actually takes one step towards the perimeter when Green is going the other way.
Unfortunately for LeBron, that mistake would be costly. Green is given a head start, and ultimately additional space once he takes the final shot.
Another obstacle in the way of LeBron is the incredible screen being set by the rookie, Kelly Olynyk. Not only is KO battling hard to distract Chris Bosh and keep him away from the corner, but because of the force of his push, he is positioned with a wide base.
This stance deters James from having a clear path to Green, as he must go all the way around Olynyk. This is even more evident in the next photo, which is also when Wallace makes the unbelievable pass required to make this play work.
With the pass in the air, Bosh managed to escape from Olynyk's grasp, but he couldn't get to the ball soon enough. James is also late to the ball because of Olynyk's wide screen, as well as his previous error in judgment.
Jeff Green caught the pass at his waist, gathered his feet behind the arc, and then elevated for the shot. Moments like this are what basketball players live for, and Green followed through, draining the shot for the win.
Even though Jeff Green will understandably receive most of the praise for this play, the credit deserves to be shared. Brad Stevens created a brilliant play and put the correct personnel on the floor, including Gerald Wallace, who stayed patient and made a pass that would make Rajon Rondo proud, and Kelly Olynyk, who successfully screened both LeBron and Bosh, giving Green the space necessary to take the final shot.
When it comes to execution, I don't think it gets much better than this.