Victor Oladipo did it again. This time with a pull-up 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining with Kyrie Irving chasing and Al Horford contesting that gave the Indiana Pacers the lead and the victory after he stole the Celtics final inbound pass on the next possession and gave his signature This is My City gesture to the crowd.
It’s not like anyone could forget that fact but no one is going to mind being reminded like they were tonight.
“I’m going for the win,” Oladipo told reporters after the game. “Not because I’m saying I have to every time, but you’ve got to give yourself the confidence to do it and believe that you can do it. I’m not going to say every time we’re down two in a home game that I’m going to shoot a 3 but I’m just going to make the play that’s there.”
It was just over one year ago when Oladipo first laid claim to his city after making the game winner against the San Antonio Spurs. And oh, how he’s quickly endeared himself to the fanbase with relentless positivity and countless clutch moments in his relatively short time as a member of the Pacers.
“This really reminded me of a shot he hit last year,” said Head Coach Nate McMillan. “Going down the stretch, pulled up for 3, I don’t recall the game but very similar shot that he took tonight and it just gave him confidence throughout last year.”
Count his teammates among those who are in awe of the heroics of Oladipo.
“We almost expect him to take that shot,” said Myles Turner after the game. “We expect him to live up to those big moments. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He never ceases to amaze me.”
Tonight’s clutch final moment was only possible because of repeated answers to Irving’s own big shots in the game’s final minute.
“Kyrie made big shots,” said Celtics Coach Brad Stevens. “… I thought we fought and played really hard and we got beat by a good team and Oladipo made a big shot.”
With the game tied at 95, Irving hit a 3-pointer to put the Celtics up three but Oladipo answered with a step-back jumper of his own with his foot on the line that kept the Pacers behind by one.
Irving then hit yet another tough 3-pointer to put the Celtics up four with just 38 seconds left in the game. Oladipo drew a foul on the next possession, made both free throws and after Irving missed a challenged layup Oladipo was free to make his latest memorable play.
After making just 3 of his 14 shots in the game’s first 45 minutes, Oladipo went 3 for 4 in the final three minutes.
“Time to win. When it’s time to win nothing else matters,” said Oladipo. “You have to forget about the rest of the game and just go out and play.”
You can’t question Oladipo’s clutchness after the Pacers past three games where he’s been dealing with bronchitis and making big shot after big shot. Against the Knicks he hit two 3-pointers to ice the game in the final two minutes and had the go-ahead steal and dunk that gave the Pacers the lead for good. Against the Bulls, he hit multiple big shots down the stretch as he led the way on a Pacers run to retake the lead late in the final quarter.
The Pacers are now 7-3 with big home games against the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers coming up on Monday and Wednesday.