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If there was any part of the Paul Pierce era that fans didn't like, it was the hero-ball, last-second isolation plays that the Boston Celtics would run to try to win games at the buzzer.
With Pierce in Brooklyn, it was thought that that era was over. However, with four seconds remaining and the team down one to the Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics got almost zero movement and a tightly-contested Jordan Crawford jumper.
There were no picks set for a running Crawford off the inbounds pass. Courtney Lee sprinted meaninglessly across the baseline, while two others stood in their corners with the inbounds passer soon joining them.
A week prior to that, Boston dropped a 107-106 contest to the Detroit Pistons. Brandon Bass wanted to take the game-winner this time, but got caught on an island while dribbling too much, forcing Brad Stevens to take another timeout with about five seconds left.
The call then was to have Jeff Green drive on one of the best defenders in the NBA and try to get a shot over the outstretched arm of Josh Smith. If you didn't watch, you can probably guess how that one finished.
Even in wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, the closing plan was sketchy. Jared Sullinger missed everything on a long three with 20 seconds left and his team up two on the Cavaliers, forcing a shot-clock violation and giving Cleveland a chance to win. Green's buzzer-beater against Miami was an amazing shot, but heavily hinged on LeBron James letting Green walk away from him unguarded for two seconds.
Stevens has been great overall in his first year, but there are things that will take some time to learn, and this type of game-planning may be one of those items.
‘‘I'm glad we still had time left on the clock,’’ Stevens told the AP after the Miami game. ‘‘It is proof that in this game if you score quickly, you are going to have a chance to at least shoot the ball if the other team misses free throws."
He has the first part of it down, and with reps the rest will come.