BOSTON (CBS) — Evan Turner has no problems taking big shots when the game is on the line.
So when the Celtics point guard/shooting guard/small forward (depending on what possession you’re watching) had the ball at the end of Wednesday night’s game against Atlanta, he had no concerns when he lofted up his game-winning floater in Boston’s 89-88 victory.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
Well, just one concern. The play Brad Stevens drew up was the same exact play the C’s ran a few weeks ago at the end of their 100-99 win over the Denver Nuggets. Only in Denver, Avery Bradley took the feed from Turner off a high screen and nailed a 20-footer to put Boston up 100-97 with 25 ticks left.
On Wednesday, Stevens told Tuner he could drive if he saw the open lane. So as Turner hit the lane, he went behind his back to get the ball into his right hand, and threw up the game-winner. He wasn’t worried about it going in (he was confident it would); he was worried about Bradley standing there, expecting to get a basketball he would never receive.
“He thought he was about to get the ball, so when I made the move he was like, ‘S— Evan!’ I was like, ‘You’ll hug me in a second,'” Turner joked after his 12-point, nine-assist, seven-rebound effort against the Hawks. “I was very confident in that situation, and thank God it went in.”
“Evan had the option to drive, and I knew that when I told him he had that option that he probably wasn’t going to get rid of the ball; he’d take it and try to make a play,” said Stevens. “The one thing about Evan is he is big with the ability to handle the ball, so he is able to get a shot off like that.”
Turner’s shot gave Boston their only lead of the game, as the Celtics knocked off the top team in the Eastern Conference despite shooting just 32.3 percent from the floor. The win brings Boston to within 1.5 games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Swiss army knife of the Celtics roster has made a number of big shots this season, and in any role that Brad Stevens has asked him to play. Just last month, Turner drained a game-winning three pointer to give the Celtics a 90-89 win over the Blazers, who currently sit in the three-seed in the Western Conference.
Turner has had a knack for hitting those kinds of shots during his career (just last season as a member of the Pacers, he hit a shot very similar to Wednesday night’s floater to beat the Celtics), but said he just recently started to keep some mementos from those big games. After missing a few opportunities to start such a memorabilia collection while at Ohio State and with the 76ers, Turner began to keep a sneaker or wristband from those games, marking them with a simple “game winner” inscription.
Now he’s got another “special moment” sneaker to add to the collection.READ MORE: FDA Expected To Authorize Mixing COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots, Report Says
Jared Sullinger, a fellow former Buckeye who didn’t get the chance to play with Turner at Ohio State, said it’s nice to see a close friend quiet some of his critics with his play this season.
“Everybody criticized him for being a bad teammate or a guy not concerned with winning. This just shows this guy is all about winning,” said Sullinger. “He shares the ball, he rebounds the ball, and at times, he can score baskets individually. He’s been great at point guard, forward, whatever position he’s playing now. He’s been doing a great job.”
Turner and the Celtics hit the All Star break on a high note, and are hoping that momentum can carry over for the final 31 games of the season.
“It says a lot for us as a team; we were able to come back against one of the best teams in the league,” said Turner. “We were down 20, shot I think 30 percent – we’d like to put together a whole game – both a defensive and offensive game. If we do that we’re all right. It was a great win, and it’s always better to go into the break on a win and not a loss. It’s huge.”
“I think we’re 20-31, so I’m not ready to anoint us the ‘Comeback Crew’ yet,” said Stevens. “But we have had a lot of games where we’ve been down and we’ve come back and been right on the door knocking and not gotten over the hump, and so it was good to finish that off, come back all the way, and win.
“I told them, ‘Don’t lose the momentum of what we worked towards, but get off your feet and get some rest.’ That’s something we all have to do,” Stevens continued. “We have a lot of room to improve, so this should give us some energy when we come back to work. It’s always tough to leave on a break or any period of time on a close loss, so a close win makes you feel a little bit better come next Wednesday.”
Injured center Kelly Olynyk is the lone member of the Celtics making the trip to New York for this weekend’s All-Star festivities, but will sit out the Rising Stars Challenge with a bad ankle. The rest of his teammates will be resting up and setting their sights on the upcoming three-game West Coast swing following the break.
Turner said after Wednesday’s win that he won’t even watch the game come Sunday evening. Instead, he’ll be focused on resting up for Boston’s playoff push. And if the Celtics are able to secure that eighth seed in the East, there’s a good chance they’ll be facing the Atlanta Hawks.
Though they got the best of them on Wednesday, the C’s know things will get much more difficult if the two teams meet again.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
“They won’t have too many off nights. Hopefully we’ll get to that level by the time playoffs hit,” said Turner. “If we’re fortunate enough to be there, we won’t be making too many mistakes either.”