By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Even after a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors, the odds appeared stacked against the Boston Celtics for their Wednesday night meeting with the Sacramento Kings.
That’s because the second leg of road back-to-backs have been anything but kind to this year’s Celtics.
In fact, the Celtics entered this game with an 0-2 mark when looking for the back-to-back road sweep this season. The first came when the Celtics came up short against the Jazz following a thrilling overtime win over the Suns, and the second came when a letdown in Dallas served as the team’s follow-up to an 18-point victory in Atlanta the night before.
But the Celtics bucked that trend with some last-second help from Gordon Hayward in a 111-109 win at the Golden 1 Center.
As the final score confirms, Wednesday night in Sacramento was far from the wire-to-wire cakewalk that the Celtics enjoyed at Oracle Arena on Tuesday, though, as the Celtics struggled to find their shot early, with makes on just seven of their first 21 attempts from three-point land and a 49-49 draw through 24 minutes of play.
And led by what was a classic bully kind of game from Al Horford, who finished the night with 21 points and 11 rebounds, the Celtics turned it on and answered runs by the Kings, holding a five-point edge through three quarters.
But the Kings would not quit.
With Buddy Hield leading the charge, scoring nine of Sacramento’s 32 fourth-quarter points and grabbing five rebounds in all, the Celtics were forced to answer with a late-game Jayson Tatum make in double-coverage, and left to answer in a 109-109 draw after Hield made three straight free throws to knot things up.
That’s where the Celts got that aforementioned help from Hayward, as he atoned for that foul on Hield with an end-to-end rush capped with a beautiful baseline fadeaway that sealed the deal on a Boston victory.
Boston certainly got some help from countless Sacramento mistakes throughout the night, too, as the Kings finished with 15 turnovers, and were whistled for 20 fouls long before they went the intentional foul route late in the fourth quarter.
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, missed this meeting due to a left thigh contusion. And in what has to be one of the stranger stats surrounding this team’s bizarre year, the Celtics are now 10-2 without Irving this season.
The Green will travel to Los Angeles for a Saturday night meeting with LeBron’s Lakers. The Lakers defeated the Celtics by a 129-128 final behind a Rajon Rondo buzzer-beater when these teams met back in Boston on Feb. 7.