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Another Brad Stevens’ ATO quiets Thunder

NBA: Boston Celtics at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With 42 seconds left on the clock, the Celtics uncharacteristically burned eight seconds off the clock before calling time out. With the game tied at 95, it was the perfect opportunity to get a 2-for-1, but they called a TO with only 34 seconds left and just 10 seconds to ensure them another possession.

They need just six ticks.

Unfortunately, the NBA on TNT did not cut back to game action before their Audio Assist segment and we missed another gem of an ATO from Brad Stevens. Here’s what we all saw last night:

Marcus Smart is already at the rim sucking in three Thunder defenders. He finds a wide open Al Horford who has his pick of wide open Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum to his left and right. He opts for OKC killer Morris who buries the 3 and hopefully, the Celtics’ early season shooting woes.

For more context, here’s the radio call from The Sports Hub’s Sean Grande:

It sounds like Smart--not Kyrie Irving, who had had the last two Celtics field goals--received the in bound pass from Jayson Tatum and drove straight to the rim. With Russell Westbrook on Kyrie, Smart had the smaller Dennis Schroder on him and he could easily bull rush him to the rim. It’s hard to tell, but my guess is that the Thunder didn’t expect such a quick play out of the time out and that’s why the defense collapsed so much.

Here’s another angle:

NBA: Boston Celtics at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a clutch shot by Morris, but also an incredibly athletic and acrobatic hockey assist from Smart. Smart, who had left the game earlier with a jammed thumb, contorts his body and crashes to the floor but not before finding Horford at the top of the arc.

Not all game-winning ATO’s are going to be white board masterpieces. Last night’s seemed to fit the theme of much of this early season: taking advantage of mismatches. Boston wanted to go quick so they leaned on Smart vs. Schroder and he delivered. His aggressiveness would eventually find Morris who lead the team with a +16 in large part due to 4-for-5 from behind the arc.

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