The Boston Celtics handled the national media’s newly dubbed “rival” Washington Wizards at home 110-102. Returning from his two game absence, Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 25, while Avery Bradley played some inspired basketball on both ends, contributing 20 points of his own to go with 9 rebounds. The Celtics outrebounded the Wizards 54-39 including 20 offensive rebounds. Boston improves to 45-26 while Washington falls to 42-28.
Entering the game
Washington led the season series 2-1 yet found themselves 1.5 behind Boston in the conference standings. Both teams understood the importance of this game with just a dozen or so games left in the season. Neither team downplayed the high stakes. It showed.
Avery Bradley seemed in early-season form offensively by scoring the team’s first 5 points. Thomas looked to get in rhythm after missing the previous two games with a knee injury by taking some early looks. Following a rare missed free throw and a questionable no-call the next possession, Thomas was hit with a technical. Washington came out of the gates hot from outside, scoring 19 points in less than 6 minutes to the Celtics 12 before Brad Steven’s first timeout. Bradley responded with two quick buckets and a dime to Amir Johnson for the alley-oop in transition. That sparked a 12-0 run for the C’s who finished the quarter up 30-28.
Jaylen Brown started the second quarter by putting his imprint on the game with two tough, contested layups. It was more a matter of when than if the “chippy-ness” would start, but a strange exchange between Washington’s Brandon Jennings and Terry Rozier at half court led to double techs. A pull-up three in transition erupted the garden crowd and led to a Wizards timeout, giving the C’s a 43-37 edge. Eight straight points for Jae Crowder and a pair at the line opened up a 53-42 lead. Thanks in large part due to their dominant play on the boards (31-16), Boston took a 58-47 advantage into the half.
The Celts kept their foot on the gas with back-to-back-to-back threes by Bradley and Thomas, two from the latter. When it rains, it pours. Three more baskets from Horford, Thomas, and Bradley opened up a 74-54 lead with over 7 minutes to go in the frame. The remainder of the quarter seemed to be dictated by the referees as their seemed to be a whistle on every possession. Celtics color commentator Tommy Heinsohn may have put it best, “This officiating crew has left a lot to be desired.” One of his milder takes on the subject. Boston still managed to hang on to most of their lead with a 92-75 score heading into the final 12 minutes.
The fourth opened up like a sloppy track meet. Both team’s second units looked to push the ball but it led to a lot of turnovers, fouls, and missed opportunities. However, Washington managed to string together a 11-4 run and their head coach Scott Brooks was reluctant to go back to his starters with just under 7 minutes to go. Some lackadaisical play closing the game led to the Wizards cutting the lead to 6 with a little over 2 minutes left. A big bucket in the paint followed by a steal and two free throws all by Marcus Smart extended the lead back to double digits and the Celtics never looked back.
Photo Credit: CSNNE.com
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