Tonight the Boston Celtics faced off against the athletic, John Wall powered, Washington Wizards. The Celtics were looking to get back to a .500 record, after the convincing 94-86 win last night with Rajon Rondo leading the way. The Wizards were grasping for their first win of the season (and the new year) after racking up their 4th loss (0-4).
With Jermaine O'Neal out for the evening, Doc looked to give the start to rookie Greg Stiemsma and added minutes to the Veterans while monitoring Chris Wilcox's due to his healing injury.
:46 seconds in, Flip Saunders was ejected, leaving the Wizards without their head-coach for the remainder of the game. Greg Stiemsma started the game exactly Doc envisioned, with a quick bucket and a big block on a Rashard Lewis jumper. Ray Allen also had a big first quarter, playing with midseason form, pouring in 11 points including two 3-pointers. Avery Bradley was also given some time, and played lockdown defense on Jordan Crawford forcing a turnover. The Wizards looked to involve Andray Blatche early, and he finished the quarter with 9 points. John Wall started the game with a fast break mindset, and both of his two first quarter baskets came on dunks (one of which earned him a technical for taunting).The quarter ended with Washington up on the Celtics 24-23.
In the second quarter, Paul Pierce seemingly picked up where Ray Allen left off, making his first three shots and ending the half with 10 points and 4 rebounds. . Rookie Chris Singleton (Washington Wizards) was humbly reminded what it's like to defend a future hall-of-famer. Ray Allen added to his already impressive stat sheet, finishing the half with 16 points, a rebound, and an assist. Garnett finished the quarter with 6 points and 4 rebounds. Washington continued their fast paced offensive game, complimented by the rebounding of JaVale McGee (10 rebounds) and Andray Blatche (7 rebounds) which allowed for a lot of second chance points.
Pros of first half:
- Boston Shot almost 40% (or 4-11) from beyond the 3 point arc (3 of those coming from Ray Allen)
- There were very few unnecessary turnovers at only 6
- Out-passed Washington with 12 first half assists
- Solid Defensively
- Paul Pierce looked completely comfortable and was very involved
Cons of first half:
- The Celtics were out-rebounded 27-23
- Boston only scored 4 fast break points
- The Celtics only attempted 10 free throws (5 of them were technical fouls)
- Poor ball movement led to the Wizards transition chances
Boston started the third quarter with a lineup of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Stiemsma. The Celtics looked quick to start the quarter, with 2 jumpers from Stiemsma and a 3 pointer from Pierce which gave them a 4 point lead early on. Washington went on a 6-0 run (led by Blatche and Nick Young) to quickly bring the game back into balance. Up to this point, there had been 11 ties and 16 lead changes, which explains how much of a struggle to pull ahead that both teams were having. Towards the end of the quarter Rajon Rondo landed awkwardly on his wrist after a missed fast break layup and got up slow, much to the dismay of Celtics nation. Thankfully, he waved off trainer Eddy Lacerte, and stayed in the game. The third quarter ended 70-69, the Wizards clinging to a 1 point lead.
The fourth quarter started with a few quick, sloppy, possessions from both teams, highlighted by 2 mid range jump-shots from Andray Blatche and a 3 pointer by Ray Allen. During a full time out, Doc Rivers praised the team for their ball movement and said, "Guys, if we move the ball like that for the rest of the quarter, we're going to come away with a win." Brandon Bass came out shooting in the 4th, making 2 of his first 3 shots. Through this point in the fourth, Andray Blatche was the high man for the Wizards with 21 points and seemingly having the offense run through him, instead of Jon Wall. After a fast break that resulted in yet another Ray Allen 3 pointer, the Celtics opened up a 9 point lead, which was the largest lead of the night (by either team). One last classic corner 3 pointer by Ray Allen (assist to Pierce) with 1:30 remaining, and a Pierce 3 pointer at the :30 second mark, that brought the lead back to 8 were all the Celtics needed for a final push.
Keys to the Game:
- Ray Allen (35 minutes, 27 points, 6/7 from 3 point line)
- Ball Movement (28 assists)
- Paul Pierce's involvement in the game
- Slowing down John Wall