Celtics-Cavs: How Boston got Avery Bradley wide open for his Game 3-winning shot

The Celtics were coming off a 44-point loss. They were without Isaiah Thomas and on the road. And yet, they were victorious in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, a 111-108 decision, shocking the Cleveland Cavaliers with a last-second 3-pointer from Avery Bradley, who somehow got the shot to drop after an exceedingly friendly bounce. 

Let's break down how it happened. 

After the Cavs tied the game 108-108, thanks to a tricky layup from Kyrie Irving with just over 10 seconds remaining, the Celtics took a timeout to advance the ball to half court, and Brad Stevens drew up one of his favorite plays. 

It starts with Marcus Smart controlling the ball up top, while the rest of the Celtics spread out around the perimeter, creating good spacing: 

The action begins with Avery Bradley setting a screen for Jae Crowder, who curls into the lane. If the Cavs make a defensive blunder, Smart can find Crowder with the pass for the layup, but this is mostly just a distraction. They set this screen to get the defenders moving and thinking about Crowder, when the play is really designed for Bradley:

After Bradley sets the screen for Crowder, he then turns and cuts up toward the ball to use a screen being set by Al Horford on the wing. As you can see, the decoy screen for Crowder works to perfection, as Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith get confused, and both follow Crowder across the lane, leaving no one on Bradley: 

The really neat part of watching this play develop is how smart Bradley is at reading this screen and situation. As he begins his cut up toward the ball, he sees the position of Horford's screen, and the position of the help defense. Thus, instead of curling around to the top of the key, he bumps the screen, and pops back out to the wing, completely eliminating any chance of Tristan Thompson or LeBron James being able to help. And since Shumpert and Smith are both nowhere to be seen, he's now completely free to set his feet and let it fly:

Sure, he gets a bit of a friendly bounce, but a winner is a winner. All that matters is it went in:

Plus, Bradley had already hit a winning 3-pointer in this building so, I'm pretty sure he was entitled to that bit of luck. 

NBA Writer

Jack Maloney lives and writes in Milwaukee, where, like the Bucks, he is trying to own the future. Full Bio

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