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Celtics’ incredible comeback likely never happens without a little help from officials

The Boston Celtics pulled off one of the most miraculous comebacks of the season Thursday, overcoming a 26-point deficit to beat the high-powered Houston Rockets, 99-98, at the TD Garden in Boston.

Most of the attention following the game was on the two offensive fouls that Marcus Smart drew on James Harden to complete the improbable comeback, but it turns out the game shouldn’t have gotten to that point to begin with. 

Before the fouls, before Al Horford’s go-ahead hook shot and before Jayson Tatum’s dunk cut the Rockets’ lead to a single point, it’s clear that Smart got away with a pretty blatant travel, right in front of the referee.

Keep your eye on Smart, who receives the inbounds pass in the bottom right corner of the video and proceeds to take what looks like five or six baby steps before unloading a beautiful pass to Tatum.

Here’s a closer look.

Yeah, that’s a travel.

If the officials call that, the ball goes back to Houston and Boston is forced to foul down by three. The Rockets likely hit at least one free throw and they probably escape with the win. Instead, the call was missed and the magical Celtics season continues.

The Celtics still had to earn every bit of their win and calls are missed all the time, but Smart’s travel somewhat sours what our Brad Botkin called the most impressive win of the NBA season.

Colin Ward-Henninger

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