By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Boston sports have certainly had the flair for dramatic lately.
It’s hard to top Sunday night’s incredible Patriots win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, but the Boston Celtics came pretty close on Monday. After letting a 19-point lead slip away against the Pacers, the C’s got an incredible steal and dunk from Terry Rozier in the closing seconds to escape Indiana with a thrilling victory.
Things looked grim as Boston trailed by four, 111-107, with 19 seconds to play. Teams just don’t come back from that kind of deficit with such little time on the clock.
But that’s not how things are going for Boston sports teams lately, with just about everything coming up roses. Or in this case, Rozier.
Kyrie Irving, who finished with a team-high 30 points on the night, drained a deep three to pull the Celtics within one with 9.3 seconds left, forcing Indiana to use a timeout. The triple gave the Celtics some hope, but they still had a lot of work to do and needed a few friendly bounces. They didn’t have enough time to set a trap on defense, or so they tough, so they were thinking foul, hoping to get another shot to tie or possibly win the game depending on what the Pacers did with their free throws. All Indiana had to do was inbound the ball, hit their freebies and hope for one final defensive stand.
Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic inbounded to Cory Joseph, who instead of being fouled, was met with a trap by Marcus Smart and Irving. Joseph passed back to Bogdanovic, who was rushed by Shane Larken. Rather than wait to be fouled, Bogdanovic forced a pass to Victor Oladipo near mid-court, a pass that stayed in the air just a few tenths of a second too long.
That’s when Rozier pounced into action. Like an NFL safety, he jumped the route and picked Bogdanovic’s lob pass, tipping the ball to himself en route to the basket. With time expiring, the athletic guard sprung for the basket and put down a jam with just one second remaining, giving Boston a dramatic and incredibly improbable 112-111 win.
“I always brag about my football skills,” Rozier told reporters after the win. “I got to show that a little bit tonight.”
Rozier’s steal would have made Patriots safety Duron Harmon (who came up with the game-saving interception in Pittsburgh on Sunday) proud, and his situational awareness should get an admirable nod from New England head coach Bill Belichick.
Heck, it even got a smile out of Brad Stevens.
“I thought fouling was the most logical outcome. But logic doesn’t always work, so I’m glad we didn’t foul,” Stevens said of the final play after the win.
The Celtics have had a knack for coming back this season, one of the many reasons they’ve been such a fun team to watch and hold a two-game lead for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Though it probably never should have gotten to that point on Monday night, it’s another dramatic win in a long list of dramatic wins for the C’s this season, further fueling their confidence in each other down the stretch.
“We just have unwavering believe echoing down from our coaching staff to all of us,” said Irving. “We’ve been in some tough games this year, and to be in a tough situation like that is not ideal, but I feel pretty confident that we have some guys that we can confidently go to.”
Much like their counterparts in Foxboro, you can never count the Celtics out.