Celtics beat Cavaliers at the buzzer on bouncing Avery Bradley 3-pointer (VIDEO)


There was no Isaiah Thomas on the floor for the Boston Celtics on Sunday, but all that mattered was a bouncing, game-winning 3-pointer by Avery Bradley that left 0.01 left on the clock as the visiting Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 111-108.

Boston looked much better as a defensive matchup against Cleveland with Thomas out. LeBron James scored just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, adding six rebounds and six assists. Kyrie Irving led the way with 29 points for the Cavaliers, and Kevin Love dropped 28 points including 7-of-13 from 3-point range.

LeBron looked pedestrian all night, unable to affect the game the way he had in the first two contests, where the Cavaliers star seemingly was able to get any shot he wanted. James was stationary on offense in the final three minutes on offense, deferring to his teammates and hanging out by the 3-point line as they tried to operate among themselves.

The Celtics took the lead late, with both teams exchanging shots until the final seconds. Cleveland was able to grab the lead with 10 seconds to go thanks to a wild, slashing drive by Irving.

Then it was Boston’s turn to go to work, and they had an incredible ATO play drawn up to get Bradley a 3-pointer. Of course, it also took JR Smith completely blowing his assignment for this to happen.

Via Twitter:

What does this mean for the series? Not much. It took a herculean effort by the Celtics that will be hard to duplicate for three more wins. Marcus Smart scored 27 points, going 8-of-14 from the field including an eye-popping 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. Bradley added 20 points, and Jae Crowder scored 14 points to go with 11 rebounds.

LeBron had to look terrible and Smart had to have a career game for the Celtics to win it, and even then they only did so as time expired. Watching the game, it may have appeared that James wanted his teammates to help pull them through, and indeed they shot a solid percentage both from the field and from beyond the arc. But their effort wasn’t enough down the stretch to get the win, so I would put my money on the LeBron from Game 1 and 2 returning Tuesday for Game 4.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.