Mike Breen has a treasure trove of great calls, but there has been the occasional miss along the way, and he doesn’t have to go back far to find one that he, to borrow his term, butchered.
The longtime NBA play-by-play man was on the call for the opening game between the Celtics and Nets in the first round of the playoffs last season. Unlike the series as a whole, Game 1 was a dandy.
Boston was down 114-113 with 13 seconds to go when they got possession for the final time. Marcus Smart burned a couple defenders with a pump-fake from 3-point territory, then took a few steps towards the paint before finding Tatum going to the basket behind a slew of ball-watching Nets defenders.
Tatum spun and laid up the ball just as the horn was sounding, giving the Celtics the win. It was an incredible play, one that set the tone for a C’s run that fell just short of a title.
Breen, generally adept at capturing the moment, said “Celtics go up by one” after Tatum scored. As he was saying that, the Celtics bench was pouring onto the floor in celebration. Breen then spent the rest of the time fixating on the officials confirming that Tatum scored before the buzzer.
Appearing on the “Old Man and the Three,” Breen said he botched the call.
“It was a fantastic game," Breen said. "It was one of those games – and I think we even said it at some point during the fourth quarter – I said to Tim Corrigan, who was producing, ‘Man, it’s all clicking.’ It’s just, the feeling is great. And then Jayson Tatum hits a shot at the end, and I butchered the call as badly as I’ve ever butchered a big call at the end of a game.”
What resulted for Breen were a few restless nights before he called his next playoff game later in the week.
“I couldn’t sleep the next two days. Now, if that was 10 years ago it probably would have been a two-week grief period. But that was – and the reason I was so mad was because I screwed it up (when) the whole crew had just knocked it out of the park. And by one second at the very end, I blew the call.”