OG Anunoby, Raptors stun Celtics with unlikely buzzer-beater to keep series alive

·3 min read

The Boston Celtics looked well on their way to a commanding 3-0 advantage on Thursday when they took the lead with 0.5 seconds remaining against the Toronto Raptors.

But OG Anunoby had other ideas. The Raptors forward found himself wide open on the sideline on the ensuing inbounds play and calmly sunk a 3-pointer that barely beat the buzzer to secure a 104-103 Raptors victory and cut their series deficit to 2-1.

The game — and the series — looked over on the other end when Celtics guard Kemba Walker found Daniel Theis for a go-ahead dunk to take a 103-101 lead with 0.5 seconds left.

The Raptors called timeout to set up a desperation inbounds play from halfcourt.

Lowry with the perfect pass

Kyle Lowry held the ball for the inbounds play in front of a raucous Celtics bench with 7-5 Tacko Fall defending the pass. The Celtics set up a zone and lost Anunoby, who broke wide open on the opposite sideline beyond the 3-point line.

Teammates mob Toronto Raptors' OG Anunoby. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
OG Anunoby took his turn as Raptors hero on Thursday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Lowry spotted him, hit him in the hands with a pinpoint pass, and Anunoby did the rest. He released the ball over the outstretched right hand of Jaylen Brown in time to beat the clock and sink a 3-pointer, keeping all reasonable hopes of winning the series alive.

Anunoby’s Raptors teammates swarmed him on the court. Officials reviewed the play to make sure he got the ball off in time. He did. And a series that looked over all of a sudden has new life.

Play wasn’t designed for Anunoby

Lowry told TNT after the game that the play was designed to set up a shot for Fred VanVleet or Paskal Siakam. But when the Celtics covered Toronto’s primary options, Lowry found the open shooter.

“I just waited, and OG — he’s been shooting it lights out the last couple of weeks,” Lowry said. “I had confidence in him, and we’ll take that win.”

As for Anunoby? He expected the shot to drop.

“I expected to make it,” Anunoby told reporters when asked about his cool demeanor after hitting the shot. “I don’t shoot trying to miss. Every shot I shoot, I try to make it. I wasn’t gonna act surprised. Because I wasn’t surprised.”

Lowry led the Raptors with 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Anunoby’s 3-pointer was his third of the night on five attempts. He tallied an efficient 12 points on eight field goal attempts to go with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. VanVleet added 25 points and six assists while Siakam tallied 16 points and seven rebounds.

New life in Eastern Conference semis

For the Celtics, it looked like Walker’s turn to play hero. Before setting up the go-ahead bucket, the first-year Boston guard led the Celtics with 29 points while hitting 4-of-7 3-point attempts. Brown added 19 points and 12 rebounds while Jayson Tatum struggled from the field, hitting 5-of-18 attempts in a 15-point, nine-rebound effort.

The Celtics will have to wait for their coronation as title contenders. Thanks to Lowry and Anunoby, the Raptors revived the Eastern Conference semifinals and reminded everyone that they’re still NBA champions.

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