Wow, what a week. It was so awesome that I wish I was allowed to curse on this website so I could express just how dumbfounded I was by the Pacers’ three-game win streak.
I’m not kidding when I tell you this: When Victor Oladipo hit that game-winning shot Saturday I literally threw my phone off the ceiling out of pure shock and amazement.
There are few things in sports that actually, genuinely shock me. One I distinctly remember -- for all Hoosier fans out there -- was Christian Watford’s game-winner over Kentucky.
But back to Oladipo. Not only did I think Nate McMillan was going to take a timeout, but I thought if he didn’t Oladipo would go to the rim and tie the game up. I was so shocked that I threw phone up in the air in disbelief.
Fortunately it bounced off my low-hanging ceiling and was not permanently damaged.
The last 70 seconds of the Celtics-Pacers game felt like a playoff game, what with the mano on mano matchup of Oladipo versus Kyrie Irving.
It all started with another superb “right out of the timeout” play. Brad Stevens has Irving run the baseline to the free throw, hooking around Al Horford who’s setting a screen.
Irving is able to create enough space from Darren Collison and, because Domantas Sabonis made the switch, he essentially ends up wide open in the right corner.
Even as Collison recovers, Irving is given just enough daylight to pull up and drain the corner three.
1:07 Boston 98 Indiana 95
Up until that shot Irving was just 4-9 for 12 points but this shot set into motion the fantastic last minute of basketball by Indiana and Boston.
After the shot Oladipo decides it’s his turn when he gets the matchup of Irving on him. He starts by waving off Sabonis and telling the whole court he wants to be isolated onto Irving.
Then, using his incredible footwork, Oladipo steps in with his right foot just enough to through Irving off-balance, presumably because he was scared of Oladipo driving to the rim.
Using that separation he simply steps back and nails a jumper.
0:52 Boston 98 Indiana 97
If Oladipo had gotten the other foot back, the game would of been tied.
The court then flips back to the Celtics on offense, where they make sure to run the particularly deadly Horford-Irving pick and roll.
Now both Sabonis and Collison are scrambling.
Ideally, Sabonis and Collision would either double-team Irving, forcing the ball out of Boston’s most clutch players’ hands, or just... switch. Instead Irving smartly uses the confusion to his advantage, throwing both guys off with fake passes and creating enough space to nail the three yet again.
0:38 Boston 101 Indiana 97
Next was an Oladipo drive out of timeout and foul, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a video of the play.
If I’m remebering correctly, Oladipo split two defenders while getting fouled. Had he not lost his footing he might have had the opportunity for a three-point play.
0:29 Boston 101 Indiana 99
Another “right out of the timeout” play by Stevens starts with a little bump screen by Irving to get Horford the ball just in front of the left corner three spot, almost posting up Horford.
Irving, towards the right part of the court on a dime, cuts back towards the hoop -- essentially throwing off Cory Joseph, creating just enough space to get the ball.
But Joseph and his great defensive instincts gets back up and is able to contest Irving’s layup, disrupting him just enough.
Did you notice who was watching the ball the entire time, almost trailing Irving to be in the position for a rebound?
That’s right. It was Oladipo.
Watch as Irving sets his feet to close off the inside of the floor, maybe thinking that the Pacers will call a timeout.
This time Horford may also be the mistake of laying too far off of Oladipo, expecting him to drive towards the rim to tie the game.
Boy, does Oladipo make him pay for thinking that.
While that was the game-winner there are still 3.4 seconds left. However I don’t think Stevens had another great “right out of the timeout” play ready to try to win the game.
0:03 Indiana 102 Boston 101
Honestly this play starts with a fortunately-timed jump by Bojan Bogdanovic, obstructing Gordon Hayward’s view just enough that he isn’t able to get the ball to Irving when he splits past Joseph.
This forces Hayward to chuck the ball farther across the court to Jayson Tatum who looks open, save for the fact Oladipo is lurking as a free safety.
Hayward clearly misses the first read he was suppose to make and his second option was snuffed out immediately by Oladipo.
Most Boston fans will probably blame Hayward for not executing this play right but with some incredible luck and instinct Indiana was able to beat Stevens’ nicely-called play out of the timeout.
Maybe Hayward should have been more patient and waited for Irving, but from his angle Tatum did look open.
Again there will be no mailbag this week I’ve collected a bunch of questions but send in more I want to do a huge mailbag column.
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Enjoy the two Houston, Philadelphia and Miami game this week!