Everybody loves a furious comeback — the mounting excitement as the formerly meek trailer makes an emboldened push to the front, the jittery clenching of a front-runner whose advantage keeps getting chopped down, and all the moves and moments, great and small, that go into creating drama where there once had been none. It's great fun, feeling your pulse quicken as things grow tighter.
At least, it is when the comeback comes during a game that matters. When it comes during an exhibition contest of no real consequence — like, say, a preseason game between the lottery-destined Boston Celtics and the Raptor-less Toronto Raptors — most folks, most notably those covering the game for their respective media outlets, would just as soon that the comeback didn't quite get all the way to a tie at the finish line that would necessitate an overtime period and five more minutes of, like, a Terrence Ross-MarShon Brooks showdown. (No shots.) Better just to finish things off and get one step closer to the games that do count, even if the conclusion doesn't necessarily pack a dramatic wallop.
That's why the finish to Wednesday night's Boston-Toronto tilt — which the Raptors led by 12 points with 3:25 remaining, only to see the Celts cut the lead down to two with less than 30 seconds remaining — was so brilliant. It offered elements of a rush that held perfectly true to everything we know about preseason without actually forcing us to watch any more preseason basketball. Behold:
To review: After getting back to within two with 10.8 seconds left, Boston completely loses Toronto guard Julyan Stone on the leakout, leading to a wide-open fast-break dunk ... that Stone, naturally, misses. The Celtics hustle the ball down the court for a harder-than-it-needed-to-be 25-foot step-back attempt at a game-winner by Jordan Crawford ... which Crawford, naturally, air-balls. Celtics big man Jared Sullinger catches the air-ball with 1.1 seconds remaining a chance to tie by hitting an uncontested put-back ... which Sullinger, naturally, kisses harmlessly off the front of the rim. Game, set, match, Raptors win.
Sloppy, frantic, frenetic failure, two missed bunnies and a desperate Jordan Crawford heave — it's everything preseason NBA basketball is all about. Thanks for the gift, gang. You shouldn't have.
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