BOSTON — Two of the biggest shots of the Celtics’ season have come off the fingers of Evan Turner.
Turner, who last month buried a game-winning 3-pointer to clinch an upset win over the Portland Trail Blazers, played hero again Wednesday night. His floater in the lane with 0.2 seconds to play proved to be the difference in the Celtics’ wildly unlikely 89-88 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Turner’s bucket followed a Brad Stevens timeout, and while the Celtics had two options on the play (Avery Bradley was the other), the head coach was pretty certain where the ball was going.
“I knew when I told Evan he had the option to drive, I knew that he was not probably going to get rid of the ball,” Stevens said after the game. “I thought he was going to try to take it and make a play.”
The coach wasn’t the only one with an inkling as to how Boston’s final possession would turn out.
“Brandon Bass was actually on the bench calling it,” point guard Marcus Smart said. “He was like, ‘ET for the win with a floater.'”
Turner also knew from the jump that he’d keep the rock. He just hoped the play’s other option wouldn’t hold it against him.
“When (Stevens) said I could drive it, I was just hoping Avery wouldn’t be mad at me,” he joked. “… I made the move, and he was like, ‘(expletive), Evan!’ And I was like, you’re going to hug me in a second.”
There were plenty of hugs to go around after this one.
— The ever-quotable Turner had a few gems before the game, as well:
[tweet https://twitter.com/ZackCoxNESN/status/565653116943863808 align=’center’]
Turner also predicted that point guard Phil Pressey, the team’s shortest player, would win an all-Celtics slam dunk contest. Center Kelly Olynyk also received consideration — though likely not in his current state — as did “dark horse” Jared Sullinger.
What about rookie James Young, who threw down a highlight-reel dunk for Kentucky in last year’s national championship?
“No,” Turner said. “Hell no.”
— Olynyk sat out his 11th straight game, and the team announced earlier Wednesday that he will not participate in Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge. The center said that with the Celtics’ next game not coming until next Friday, rushing back in time for the All-Star weekend showcase wouldn’t have been a smart move.
“I mean, we have another week off,” he said before the game. “It just makes more sense to hold off.”
Stevens said there is a chance Olynyk could be ready to practice when the team reconvenes next Wednesday, but that that timetable “might be pushing it.”
The second-year big man suffered an injury to the same ankle last season but said that this one was “definitely worse.”
— Frustrated by the transportation problems that have plagued Boston for the past week? The Hawks feel your pain. The second of Atlanta’s two buses — the one transporting head coach Mike Budenholzer and several starters — got bogged down in traffic on its way to TD Garden, forcing Budenholzer to miss his pregame news conference.
Despite the inconvenience, all Hawks were present and accounted for by tipoff time.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images