Avery Bradley sinks game-winner to lift Celtics over Cavaliers

Steve Helwick

Boston Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley had only one option when he was suddenly handed the basketball with two seconds remaining.

Despite the clock quickly approaching zero, Bradley managed to set himself on the corner of the hardwood. The ball escaped his fingertips with less than a second to go.

A second later, Bradley’s teammates rushed to midcourt to embrace him. Boston was trailing by two to the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers, but Bradley’s buzzer-beater allowed the streaking Celtics to win their eighth game in nine contests.

Boston was down four with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game but managed to catch up after an Evan Turner layup and a Cavaliers turnover. On the last play, Jae Crowder inbounded the ball to Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas. Not able to find an open look at the basket, Thomas dumped the ball to Bradley in the corner. Bradley shifted toward the baseline and shot over the defending Iman Shumpert. He converted on his fourth 3-pointer of the game and possibly the most important shot of the Celtics season.

“If you play this game, you should believe you’re going to win until the horn goes off,” Bradley said.

The Celtics, one of the NBA’s youngest teams with an average age of 24.5, have emerged as dark-horse contenders in the East. Bradley has been a key part of the Celtics’ 2016 emergence, averaging 15 points and 1.5 steals per game. The former Longhorn followed up his game-winning shot with a 25-point performance to beat the Sacramento Kings on Sunday.

Former Texas Longhorns hitting game-winning 3-pointers has been a theme this season. Two nights before Bradley’s finish, Kevin Durant hit a long 3-pointer to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder over the Orlando Magic 117-114, and in late November, Toronto Raptors point guard Cory Joseph shot a three from the corner to defeat the Washington Wizards. 

Out of the eight former Longhorns in the NBA, three have already converted on late shots this season from beyond the arc to win. With three months remaining, Bradley and those who once donned burnt orange and white have plenty of more chances to revel in the glory of scoring the game-winning basket.