Celtics borrow page out of Patriots playbook, steal a win against Pacers

Yahoo Sports

The Boston Celtics were in danger of dropping their fourth game in seven outings and losing their one-game lead in the loss column over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time since their 16-game win streak picked up momentum, but they borrowed a play out of the New England Patriots playbook.

The Indiana Pacers were leading 111-110 with the ball and 9.3 seconds remaining at home, but rather than foul immediately on the inbounds pass, the Celtics chose instead to trap Cory Joseph on the sideline with Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving all swarming. That forced a pass back to Bojan Bogdanovic, who was rushed by Celtics guard Shane Larkin into forcing a lob pass to Victor Oladipo.

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Then, a roaming Terry Rozier rotated to pick off the pass with four seconds left, take it the distance and dunk in the final seconds for a 112-111 win. It was a remarkable play made even more remarkable by how Celtics coach Brad Stevens foresaw the ability of that four-guard lineup to create havoc.

“We had the defensive back lineup out there with me as the safety,” Horford told reporters of the lineup with Smart, Irving, Larkin and Rozier. “We were poised for something to happen.”

The Celtics had led by as many as 19 points in the game, 15 at the half and seven with 4:28 left, but a string of 10 straight Oladipo points swung the score in the Pacers’ favor, 107-102, with 30 seconds on the clock. An Irving 3-pointer trimmed the lead to one possession. That’s when Stevens subbed Rozier in for Jaylen Brown, and once another Irving three cut the score to 111-110 with nine seconds remaining, the coach swapped Larkin in for Jayson Tatum to complete the four-guard “defensive back lineup.”

“I always brag about my football skills,” said Rozier, who played football in grade school, “so I got to show that a little bit tonight.”

This play, for Bostonians, brought back memories of Super Bowl XLIX, when Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler picked off a pass from Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to seal the win, especially since Pats coach Bill Belichick, like Stevens did with Rozier, inserted Butler for the final play.

Given the Patriots’ struggles in pass defense this season, maybe a call to the Celtics is in order.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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