We never thought we’d say this (for several reasons), but T.J. McConnell’s clutch play gave the Boston Celtics a boost Wednesday night.
The undersized Philadelphia 76ers guard played hero against the New York Knicks at Wells Fargo Center, hitting a turnaround baseline jumper as time expired to lift Philly to a thrilling 98-97 win.
It was a pretty cool moment for the Sixers, who hadn’t won on a buzzer beater in nearly three years. (A familiar face did the last honors.)
But it also was a great moment for Boston Celtics fans with an eye toward the future. Philly’s win, its fourth in the last five games, moved the club three and a half games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets, who own the NBA’s worst record entering Thursday at 8-29.
The Celtics, of course, own the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in the 2017 NBA Draft, and right now, Brooklyn’s pick is looking pretty darn good.
As ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg points out, the Nets’ pick currently has a 23.5 percent chance of being No. 1 overall and a 61.7 percent chance of landing in the top three, a great sign for Boston heading into what many experts believe is one of strongest drafts in recent memory.
The NBA season obviously is far from over. The Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Sixers all have 11 wins, just three more than Brooklyn, while the Phoenix Suns (12-26) and Minnesota Timberwolves (13-26) also could tank past the Nets for the NBA’s worst record.
But “The Process” appears to be catching hold in Philly, where Joel Embiid is impressing in his long-awaited first NBA season and the team’s other young talent is starting to mature. And as long as the C’s own Brooklyn’s assets — they also get the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder — Brooklyn’s pain will be Danny Ainge’s gain.
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images