Wyc Grousbeck wants his Boston Celtics to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs, and Jae Crowder wasn’t about to let his owner down. The do-it-all forward hit a fallaway jumper with .8 seconds remaining to give his team a 95-93 win over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, clinching the 7-seed and a first round matchup with LeBron James and company in the process.
Crowder’s incredibly difficult shot came after Kyle Lowry made consecutive driving layups past Marcus Smart to keep the Raptors alive. Toronto needed a win of its own to have a chance at the 3-seed and a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks as opposed to a series with the Washington Wizards. But fueled by a raucous home crowd, Boston simply made more plays than Raptors when it mattered most.
The Celtics earned an unlikely playoff berth last night following a loss by the Brooklyn Nets. Once it became apparent that a first round series with Cleveland was a possibility, though, a confident Grousbeck said he’d “love” to meet not just the squad that boasts basketball’s second-best record since mid-January, but also the player who’s spurred them to greatness.
“I would love to play [LeBron] in the playoffs somehow and I would love to beat him.”
Grousbeck has his wish. How prudent a strategy poking the bear is, however, remains to be seen – especially considering circumstances of the Celtics’ consecutive victories over the Cavaliers in the past few days.
Fighting for its playoff life, Boston beat Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena 99-90 on Friday. Wanting to rest his players before the postseason grind and with the 2-seed already secured, David Blatt sat James, Kyrie Irving, and other regulars for the teams’ second half of the home-and-home two days later. The result was predictable, a 117-78 Celtics win.
But the Cavs will be going full-tilt with no restrictions in the playoffs, and we’ve a sense that James is ready to take his game to its usual spring heights. Quality that Grousbeck, of course, understands all too well – The King dispatched of far superior Celtics squads with the Miami Heat in 2011 and 2012.
Why Brad Stevens would want to see a group many have dubbed Eastern Conference favorites in his first playoff go-round is anyone’s guess. Then again, it wasn’t he or the rag-tag roster wearing green-and-gold uniforms who stressed that desire, either.
You reap what you sew in the NBA, and Crowder’s late-game heroics give Grousbeck the matchup he desires – for better or worse.