Looking back on the Boston Celtics ridiculous comeback win over the Denver Nuggets, it’s easy to say Boston flipped a switch, went on a massive run, and turned the game on its head. In a nutshell, that is what happened.
But how does a team really flip a switch? How does a run like the one Boston went on actually happen?
Obviously, the basic elements of a run are defensive stops and offensive execution. Drill down deeper and you’ll see how the snowball starts to roll down the hill, and if a team isn’t careful, they’ll get caught in an avalanche.
“We needed something to get us going, and we were close to going the other way there when it was 76-62,” Brad Stevens said. “But we stayed the course.”
To flip things like Boston did, a team needs defensive effort, some luck, and a bunch of hustle.
With 2:17 to go in the third quarter, Facundo Campazzo hit a 3-pointer to make it 79-65. It was Nikola Jokic’s 11th assist of the game and the capper to a 14 point, 5 assist, 4 rebound quarter that reminded us all that he is the MVP frontrunner.
It didn’t look great. Sure, Boston had been hanging around and they’d made a run with Jokic on the bench earlier in the game, but the flow of this game very much pointed to Denver putting a closing run together behind Jokic and putting the Celtics away.
Then Boston went on a 15-0 run. Here’s a look at how this pivotal three minutes of basketball changed everything.
3rd Q, 1:44- JaMychal Green traveling turnover.
Romeo Langford would have drawn the offensive foul had the travel not been called. Jaylen Brown converted a layup on the other end. 79-67 Denver
3rd Q, 1:16- Campazzo bad pass turnover.
Boston starting switching everything instead of doubling. "(They) switched everything, and we allowed that to kill our offensive flow," Denver head coach Michael Malone said after the game. Jokic reads this as a rolling opportunity, but Campazzo expects Jokic to stay put, and his behind-the-back pass ends up in Kemba Walker’s hands. He finishes nicely. 79-69 Denver
3rd Q, :57- Campazzo lost ball turnover.
Walker switches onto two different players then comes over to strip the ball from Campazzo. Once again Brown finishes the layup on the other end. 79-71 Denver
3rd Q, :34- Green offensive foul.
Langford takes the hit a second time. This is Denver’s fourth straight turnover in the matter of 1:10.
3rd Q, :05.5- Walker blocks Will Barton.