Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens wasn't shy about heaping praise on his resolute players after they defeated the Indiana Pacers 100-87 in a must-win game. The Celtics had crisp ball movement all night, with 29 assists on 39 made baskets, and it was the final assist of the contest that stood out to Stevens.
This play encouraged the usually tame Stevens to hop off his seat and react as if a game-winner had just been hit, but the shot actually just put the Celtics up by 17 with about two minutes remaining.
"One of my most favorite possessions of the game was when Avery hit the three inside three minutes," a joyous Stevens said after the game. "Multiple people touched the ball. It hit multiple sides of the floor. We drove it, we got paint attack, and then we're wide open after using the clock."
Most NBA fans get thrilled over monstrous dunks and nifty no-look passes, but plays like this are what get Brad Stevens pumping his fist:
Evan Turner was the primary ball handler and the Celtics had the rest of the floor spaced with four shooters. To initiate the play, Turner did a terrific job of breaking down his man and getting the ball to the second side of the floor, which led to a basic side pick-and-roll between Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass.
Since Turner's man "showed" on the action, Bradley kicked a pass out to Turner on the perimeter. Turner responded and made another clever play by rapidly reading the defense and driving hard on the closeout.
Turner knew he'd have a layup or his patented 13-foot pull up jumper if no one came to help, or that he'd have multiple passing options if he drew the attention of the defense. The latter is precisely what happened when Turner got "paint attack," as Stevens termed the action.
Turner had the attention of three defenders, with their arms scraping for the ball, but he still managed to elevate and make an accurate pass to a wide open Bradley for three.
Stevens enthusiastically clapped his hands as Bradley received the pass, and had the shot been missed, he would've had this clip added to the reel to show the team anyway.
That's because it perfectly exemplifies what he wants from his young roster: spacing, quick ball movement, penetration, options, and open shot opportunities.
"It was a great possession and hopefully we can continue to have more possessions like that," Stevens said.
The Boston Celtics need similar plays at a more frequent rate to have any chance of making a run in the playoffs -- you should expect to see Brad Stevens springing off his seat a lot more often if that happens.